January 30, 2008

A day in the life

In yesterday's post I mentioned that Annie is the shit and hasn't warranted much writing about lately. Forgetting whether or not that’s rude, and the fact that pain is what drives this blog, something can be said about the true root of my silence. As anyone with children can attest, life just happens to go on no matter the situation, good or bad. I love Annie more every day. She learns more and more every minute we spend together. Yet, life goes on and even the most beautiful thing you can imagine threatens to become commonplace. We find ourselves waiting for the big moments and taking for granted the small ones.

Some of this comes from the fact that with all of the literature out there every parent knows the “timelines” that children are on. I wish that I wasn’t told at every turn of the page what is coming next. I know that around seven months Annie will crawl. I knew around six months that she would sit up. And due to the competitive nature of parents I know that right around the time of our second child’s birth, I should begin waiting with baited breath for Annie to walk. Where is the romanticism of that? Are there no surprises left?

But pawning off my complacency with regard to this space on society is unfair. After all, it’s up to me to either show you the true value and excitement of my life, or, well, actually be excited about it. And truthfully, I am. I just can’t imagine the joy that you, my reader, will get out of the following. Please do inform me though, if this is the kind of thing you enjoy.

7:00 A.M.-Alarm clock (that I set every night, even though my wife is the one who has to get up for work) goes off and snooze button (that I press every morning even though my wife is the one who has to get up for work) is promptly pressed for the first of three times.

7:09 A.M.-Hear Annie whimper for first time through baby monitor. Where is the snooze button on that thing?

7:18 A.M.-Get out of bed and put on robe (enjoy freshly washed bleach smell) and walk to kitchen to make first of five bottles. Wonder if my super kid can hear me shaking the bottle through her closed door.

7:18:30 A.M.-Wife and I first open bedroom door and Annie pokes her head up over the bumper (don’t fret it’s breathable) and gives us the biggest smile her chubby little jowls will allow and lets out a coo that could melt your heart. She then broadly reaches for us and receives the first of 17,000 kisses of the day. This is my favorite part of the day, bar none

7:19 A.M.-Change diaper, no poop (that was changed before midnight, thus excluding it from witty blog entry encompassing a day in the life) but full o’ pee.

7:23 A.M.-Turn on Morning Joe on MSNBC and sit with Annie on couch for downing of first bottle.

7:26 A.M.-Burps galore. Wife jumps in shower. Learn that John McCain won primary. Annie cries because she believes this lessens the chance of Mayor Mike entering presidential race.

7:58 A.M.-Wife emerges from bathroom and I admire her glowing little belly. She takes Annie from me and sits on the couch with her while I make the first of two pots of coffee (decaf for her, full on for me).

8:25 A.M.-Wife leaves for work. Wait, not yet. She steals five more minutes of snuggle time with Annie.

8:30 A.M.-Okay, now wife leaves for work.

8:35 A.M.-On wife and mother in law’s advice, feed Annie warm cereal in bowl (apparently she needs to start eating more solids) and promptly watch her make the same face as the guy on those old Keystone “Bitter Beer Face” commercials.

9:00 A.M.-Turn off Morning Joe (how many times can you listen to the same stories?) and wonder why John Edwards ever let it leak that he gets $600 haircuts. He was doomed from then on.

9:01 A.M.-Wonder why John Edwards’ hair doesn’t look that good.

9:04 A.M.-Sit on bedroom floor with Annie on one of the quilts that her mother made for her. Wish that I had drive and talent to take on projects like that and think how much I love her for it. Play with Whoozit (crazy, round, plush, multi-armed, multi-sound making, black and white face thingy).

9:11 A.M.-Wonder what Annie wants to play with.

9:37 A.M.-Read to Annie from book (Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods) while she tries to tear out the pages.

9:46 A.M.-Contemplate parallels between overweight writer walking 2,100 rocky miles and raising of children.

9:55 A.M.-Annie falls over face down on quilt and falls momentarily asleep.

9:55:10 A.M.-Annie “wakes up” crying and I put her in my patented sleeper hold…belly to chest, one eye buried in my shirt, legs wrapped around my side (note: all body parts mentioned are baby’s).

9:58 A.M.-Put Annie down for nap.

10:00 A.M.-Grab third cup of coffee and check email and begin working on writing project.

11:35 A.M.-Annie wakes up, and after the changing of first poop of day (peanut buttery in consistency and milk chocolaty in color…very nice) she has second of five bottles.

11:36 A.M.-Watch two episodes of The Office on DVR and am stunned by fact that Comcast’s service didn’t cut out during recording.

11:52 A.M.-Another diaper change…just pee.

12:19 P.M.-Wife comes home for lunch with surprise sandwich from best attempt at a local deli that is not a chain store based in Texas.

12:25 P.M.-Wonder how Muffaletta sandwiches have not become global phenomenon on level of Cabbage Patch Kids or electricity. For you readers outside of LA, you know not what you are missing. These sandwiches are reason enough for you to make the trip here…forget that you haven’t seen Annie in months.

12:31 P.M.-Feed Annie second “solid” meal of day. This time have mercy on her taste buds and serve a mushy pear and blueberry combo.

12:45 P.M.-Cable guy shows up to replace cable box (see 11:36) and gives us newer version of the one we had. It won’t help, but the more times Comcast sends a technician to my house the more I feel I’m at least getting my money’s worth from them. Think about the cost of gas these days.

1:17 P.M.-Wife leaves for work again (gives Annie her 8,758th kiss of day) and Annie and I resume playing on floor while listening to Tony Kornheiser via internet.

1:25 P.M.-Change Annie’s diaper…Whoah!...she has taken second poop of day (a little thicker than first and a lot more green) and hyperbole aside it is as big as one of mine.

1:36 P.M.-Annie is so tired that she falls over and hits head on plastic toy leaving octagonal mark on cheek. She’s crying.

1:40 P.M.-Decide to give Annie her third bottle of day so that she doesn’t go down for nap and wake up half an hour later looking for food.

1:50 P.M.-Sleeper hold.

2:15 P.M.-Sit at computer. Check email. Procrastinate. Wonder what to write about for neglected blog.

3:43 P.M.-Annie wakes up from nap. Wonder how first 31 entries of witty blog entry encompassing a day in the life took 83 minutes to compose.

4:16 P.M.-Watch Annie rifle through new favorite toy (large bucket filled with 26 other toys) as if she were down and out forty-something, the bucket was a bin, and the toys were 3 for $11 movies at Wal-Mart.

4:30 P.M.-PTI starts and Annie gets her second of two prescribed doses of Mr. Tony.

4:31 P.M.-Get call from mother in law and find out that she has to cancel her trip here this weekend because she has bronchitis. Proceed to ponder how sad this makes me and realize how lucky I am to have a mother in law whom I love so much.

4:35 P.M.-Give Annie fourth bottle of day and watch her promptly spit half of it up on shirt.

4:46 P.M.-Feel like weekend is ruined.

5:00 P.M.-Half an hour break between PTI and NBC Nightly News which we of course fill with a little Mike and The Mad Dog, also via internet. Question whether or not Annie watches/listens to too much sports?

5:14 P.M.-Feel nostalgic for New York. Mike and Chris conjure up New York like the smell of warm pretzels smoking on the street, a slice of steaming pizza at De Marco’s, or meeting up with friends at the bat before a game.

5:30 P.M.-News starts. Watch shirtless. Nothing to report of interest though. Wait, did you know the housing bubble burst?

5:32 P.M.-Bored, Annie goes old school and falls asleep face down on my chest. I miss those old days where the only place she slept was in my arms. It’s crazy how something that was so difficult at the time is the thing I miss most. Realize this is why people decide to have more than one child

5:45 P.M.-Smell top of Annie’s head and wish to myself that she would stay asleep for about the next six days.

6:00 P.M.-Wife walks through the door and Annie, sitting on the floor again, beams.

6:05 P.M.-Put Annie in “Johnny jumper” in the doorway and she works on her vert for a half hour before her bath.

6:33 P.M.-Bath time with Annie. No matter how tired she is she loves to be in the bath. She sits up now, yet does not realize that this is how you get maximum splash.

6:38 P.M.-Make sure that the crevasse between Annie’s third and fourth chins is cleared of any cheesiness.

6:45 P.M.-Prop freshly dried baby up on changing table to have her body lotioned and her but Vaselined, thoroughly.

6:47 P.M.-Re clean then Vaseline the crevasse between Annie’s third and fourth chins, just in case.

6:58 P.M.-Read haltingly to Annie from The Secret Garden while wife rocks her and gives her fifth and final bottle of the day.

7:03 P.M.-Give Annie number 17,000 and leave wife to finish off bedtime while I start dinner. Finish witty blog entry encompassing a day in the life so that I can get some rest before the start of another beautiful day.

January 29, 2008

Season Five, Episode Four

Okay, so maybe this blog is turning into a review of The Wire. I didn’t even realize that I hadn’t posted since last week. I have been working on some other writing lately and Annie has been such a calm, complete baby, that I haven’t had time to update all of you on what we have been up to. I think I can sum it up as so…Annie is the shit. She sits up on her own whenever I have to fold the laundry and she plays with toys or Zoe whenever I feel I need to jot down some notes on the computer. That being said, here are my thoughts on episode four of the last season of my favorite show.

In retrospect I should have seen Prop Joe’s demise coming. My Wire watching skills have been wasting away while I worry about this Baltimore Sun issue. While Marlo has been learning everything there is to know about being a true kingpin from Prop Joe, he was courting The Greek behind his back. I’m pretty stupid, yes.

With Joe’s killing, Marlo has fully entrenched himself as the craziest character on the show. Marlo kills ceaselessly and he shows not an ounce of emotion. Every week I’m waiting for him to crack a smile or show some anger and he never does. Maybe when his impending face-off with Omar happens he will, but I doubt it. Wait, this just in as of my second watching of this episode. When Marlo sees Herc while waiting for a consult with Levy, he hears that Herc lost his job over the stolen camera from season four. Marlo quietly chuckles in his face and walks out. That opens the door for a rush of emotion coming soon I’m sure.

This week our friends Jimmy and Lester are still way off the reservation. They continued their “killing” spree and the genius Lester added some new twists to the plot, including a fake set of teeth that they are presumably “biting” their victims with. The best part about this nuance to the case is that we see Lester carving the teeth with the same tool that he uses on his doll house miniatures. I still don’t see how this is going to fund the police department well enough to get their unit back.

Despite the return of my boy, Omar was not involved with the best scene this week. That honor goes to that sniveling creep Templeton. He interviewed at his dream paper and got completely and indistinctly pushed from the room. His interview didn't warrant a smidge of emotion from the higher ups, and when they referred to Sun stories that they loved, he had to look at his lap and tell them he had nothing to do with them. They shuffled him out of the office and told him that with a little more polish they would reconsider. He may as well been interviewed by Marlo, Snoop and Chris. Finally, at the front door of the building he was ignominiously told that he could just throw away his guest pass on the way out. A nothing reporter, given a nothing interview. He deserves it.

While writing the previous paragraph I stumbled upon the beauty of this show. Of all the people that come across the screen, and the cast is huge, the one I dislike most is the lying reporter who isn’t hurting anyone but middle to upper class white guys like himself. The characters I love are Omar and Snoop, Bubs, McNulty, and even Marlo. All of them are seriously flawed, but I would be very sad if any of them left the show. When Scott Templeton leaves I will dance a jig here in this space.

Overall this week’s was a very strong episode, and with Omar’s impending havoc wreaking next week, this guy is pumped for the escalation of this season. And on we go to his wisdom. There is a scene in an abandoned house where he is plotting Marlo’s death and saying that he wouldn’t go directly at him. Instead he’ll kill the people close to Marlo because, “If you hurt enough of them, that snake’s goan’ stick his head above that hole.” Omar better get another role after The Wire, he is incredibly nuanced.

This week gave the woman and me our fourth o-fer of the season. The producers picked the aforementioned Templeton and his thought that it's a “buyer’s market out there.” Very boring. Instead, in honor of his death, we’ll substitute Prop Joe’s declaration that he is taking himself out of the lineup due to Omar’s impending return “out of respect for that man’s skillset.” He should have been looking elsewhere though, and concerning himself with the distinct skills possessed by Marlo.

January 22, 2008

Season Five, Episode Three

The opening scene of episode three is why I watch The Wire. McNulty, drunk and overtired from working for 24 hours straight, is not trying to solve a murder, but trying to manufacture one that will get the attention of the Baltimore Police Department. Bunk comes in for the morning shift and finds McNulty stooped over a table in an interrogation room, sifting through open murder files looking for the clue he needs to pull off the trick. He takes Jimmy’s ubiquitous bottle of Jameson and tries to convince him he’s crazy, and there, underneath his anger, you can already see him beginning to cave. Throw in a scene two minutes later where a broken door locks him and Jimmy in the very same room, the deal is sealed.

I don’t know if Jimmy will pull off his caper, but I love watching him try. When he puts his mind to something (though typically it’s to getting laid) he is a wonder to watch. He is without question the driving force of the show, and as you know I am glad to have him back. As he gets more and more crazy he is taking my mind off of the reporters whom I am getting pretty sick of. Part of the reason for this is the fact that I read too many articles about this season before it aired, and most of them questioned the Sun storyline. By now, since I’ve read most of the witty lines delivered by Gus and the boys, they have lost any luster they may have had. Therefore, the “Less with More” lines given by the bigwigs seem scripted and tired, and leave me something less than tumescent.

There is a note of great news…Omar is back, brief as his appearance may have been. Marlo is making his play to get to him and we see Omar relaxing on an island, wearing shorts and surrounded by adoring children. In the scene, he hears from a confidant that his old money manager butch has been killed by Marlo, but right before that he has one grave concern. He can’t seem to find any of his favorite cereal on the island and he tells his roommate, “Cuz got to find out where they got Honey Nut, yo. And they expect us to call this spit o’ land home.” Thus Omar’s wisdom.

The Jimmy watch is a little ridiculous this week. As I’ve said, he’s been burning the candle at both ends and he doesn’t sleep for a minute during the whole episode…I think it spans two whole days. He not only attempts over and over to get some play on his “serial killer” within the deaf eared department, but he gets caught having sex on the hood of his car by two beat cops. All he does is flash his badge mid-thrust and they move along. McNulty.

Ouch, another o-fer for the wife and me on guessing the intro quote. Who the hell even knew the name of the little heard from reporter at the Sun who says, “They’re dead where it doesn’t count.” Fletcher is his name and I do love the cynicism, but this was an impossible one to guess. The good news is that my one quote lead is still safe this week.

One quick note on this week’s episode. My wife and I watched it on Saturday night. It seems that you can watch the episodes one week early on demand. I don’t plan on watching any that early, it seems dirty, but it was a bonus to be able to see it a day early and not miss the NFC championship game.

So, for this week I leave you with this. In the scene where Bunk gets Lester to try and sway Jimmy away from his serial killer plot he is totally shocked as he watches Lester instead support Jimmy with the lines, “You fucked up. Sensationalize it. Give the killer some fucked up fantasy. Give the people what they want.” Bunk’s frozen turn toward the two co-conspirators is money and the biggest reason to watch The Wire. Funny, it took me five seasons to see the similarity between McNulty and Freeman when it was in front of me the whole time.

January 19, 2008

The doldrums

Annie and I are a team. We have our routines and games, our nuances and schedules. For almost five months now she and I have been alone together five and sometimes six days a week. The horizon of a new week is always the same. Dad’s day out: Tuesday and Thursday. Gymboree: Friday morning. PTI: every day at 4:30. In between, we shop for groceries, clean the house, cook dinner, and spend time playing on the floor, learning how to sit and crawl. Oh, we have a few reliable friends whom we see occasionally. And we see my wife for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and all day Sunday. But for the most part it’s just me and my girl. Laughing, crying, learning, napping, and spitting up.

I mention this for two reasons. One of them is superficial and funny; a sociological experiment in facial recognition. The other has to do with a growing feeling that I have had since returning from New Jersey three weeks ago. I am starting to get bored. Despite the fact that my days fly by and there is never a dull moment, I am starting to feel a little bit unfulfilled. I first became cognizant of this feeling last week, when in the afternoons I found myself wanting to nap rather than clean, or exercise, or more importantly for me, write.

What are the reasons for my malaise? The easy theory is the idea that it is the middle of the winter [sic] in a new town, where I have few friends. It may be nothing that a nice long walk with Annie couldn’t cure, or a round of golf, but unexpectedly it has been too cold for that lately. The spring seems far away no matter what state you are in I guess.

Unfortunately, most of our friends here are women and for me there is still a bit of a barrier there. Yes, we are all parents (some of us staying at home,) but the idea of socializing in these circles, other than casually, seems foreign to me. Despite having the same goals and calendars, I am still an outsider. And yes, I know that much of this is my own doing. However, if all of the people with children that I see on a weekly basis were men, I would not have the same boredom issues. I would just go out and buy Playstation 3…magically no more problems.

So what can this stay at home dad do for the next six months to stay motivated and happy? I’m obviously not one to forge many new friendships. I enjoy the company of the people we know here in town, but at 31 years old I only have two or three very close friends and they are in the Northeast. That leaves me with only one option in leading a rewarding stay-at-home-dad life and the real reason for my malaise. I need to be writing every day. And with a purpose.

When a day slips by that I haven’t put fingers to keyboard, my head is awash with ideas that I should have explored. I go to sleep with words swimming just underneath the surface and plot possibilities for the novel I have promised myself I would write twisting deep within my head. The irony lies in the fact that I think they are good ideas. Ideas that others would some day enjoy reading. Now we arrive at the crux of the issue. Can I fully plunge myself into writing continuously, with the same purpose in mind, for more than a few hours, or days, or even months? I would be a fool to not tell you that this scares the shit out of me. Yet this is what I need to do.

Why, you ask, don’t I simply refer back to an earlier post in which I state, in reference to this novel, that there is nothing short of my life on the line? Well, that is the nature of procrastination after all. It’s not like the student who puts off a paper, or the homemaker who avoids the dishes doesn’t realize that these tasks need to be completed. Fear rules all procrastinators. The fear of failure paralyzes them, the procrastination itself becoming a tailor made excuse for having failed in the first place

So what is my bottom line? Write an awful novel that fails while accomplishing something. Or not write a novel, one that is neither well nor poorly written, and simply fail.

Oh yeah, the other reason for bringing up Annie and my familiar routine. I shaved today, and discovered another similarity between the two women in my life. Like my wife, Annie didn’t recognize the new aerodynamic Joe. I showered and shaved while she was taking her afternoon nap, and when I went into her room to pick her up she started crying at the site of me. It has been four hours and she still hasn’t recovered. She’s been fussy all afternoon. I guess she has nothing left to grab onto when I’m holding her, and nothing left to tickle her belly when I’m nuzzling her.

January 17, 2008


Hey ya'll. I thought I would post a quick picture of Annie and her best friend. That's stretching the truth a bit, but at least Zoe and Annie don't bite eachother. Understand, Annie would bite Zoe all day if she could get within arms reach of those floppy little ears, but so far I don't think Zoe even knows Annie exists. Where does she think all the love went?

January 14, 2008

Season Five, Episode Two

Let me start out this morning by saying that I have some concerns about the new season of The Wire. I know that everyone has been declaring David Simon a genius, myself included, if only by asserting that the series is the best I have ever seen. However, there are already two major issues that have popped up this season. First, while the newspaper angle could prove to be a good one (and if we continue to hear mostly from Gus it will be), it could also prove to be the show’s deadly anchor. It could be a weight around David Simon’s neck that unravels all of the good will he has built up with viewers. As yet it only appears to be an ugly vendetta on his part. The themes of editorial oversight and ladder climbing reporters seem a little too easy. Even a non-genius like me could have come up with those ideas, and I never worked at the Baltimore Sun.

The second storyline that has this fan concerned is McNulty’s new hobby of staging dead overdosed heroin user crime scenes as serial killer murders. In next week’s preview it seems that he continues the trend, and starts a wave of panic throughout Baltimore. Yes, I get that it ties into Lester’s question of what it would take to get the town’s bigwigs to notice murders, e.g., dead white people instead of black. It seems that Jimmy’s crazy tactics are not only too off the map even for him, but also too obvious a choice for the writers.

I would summarize these two storyline problems like this: If I can spot them coming before they happen, then someone is being lazy. The beauty of The Wire in the past is that the plot lines are subtle and difficult to understand. It took a true fan and the ability to rewind and relisten at least once an episode to pick up on the nuances. Omar help us if the rumors are true that Simon carts out Munch for a guest appearance later in the season…that would be the definition of transparent.

Okay, down to the recurring themes. I said last week that I would cover Wire nuances each week, but that seems too vague now, and they will appear in the generalities portion at the beginning of each post anyway. That being said, let’s move on to Omar’s Wisdom. We seem to be in trouble on that front, as Omar is in the golden years of retirement. There are scenes from next week that lead me to believe that his time in West Palm Beach won’t last much longer though. Until his run on the shuffle board court is over there will be another stand in, and this week the winner is Marlo. In a scene where he explains to his lieutenants that it’s time to get back into the game of killing enemies due to multiple layers of disrespect, from turf wars all the way down to hearsay of petty insults, he tells them, “The crown ain’t worth much if the nigga wearin’ it always gettin’ his shit took.” Succint and scary at the same time. A worthy fill in for the man.

I have already alluded to the McNulty watch this week, but it can be summed up as a man way off the ranch and seemingly on the brink of big trouble. He is drinking, which you know I love, and now staging crime scenes. The good news is that he will eventually get back on the scent of Marlo and for that I can’t wait. For now, I’m just worried, not about Jimmy, but about the plot. The aspect of this storyline that I do like is that for the first time we can see a rift between McNulty and Bunk. Despite McNulty’s questionable behavior in the past, he was always on the up and up when it came to police work. I will be curious to see where it goes over the next few weeks.

Lastly, and most importantly, my wife and I had another O-fer on last night’s opening quote. I guessed Rawls and she went with McNulty, but the answer was Bunk again. He seems to get in a lot. Some day I will tally all 50 some odd episodes for you. Last night, in the same conversation where Lester begs the question of why nobody cares that people are dying every day, the boys declare that if the murders were of pretty white girls on vacation in Aruba, citizens would take notice. To this Bunk stoically responds in his gravelly baritone, “This ain’t Aruba, bitch.” Good times.

January 11, 2008

Something Amiss in Shreveport

Shreveport is an interesting town. Yesterday, while doing the dishes in the morning, I noticed that my water pressure was a little low. At the time, I chalked it up to my apartment complex’s spotty history concerning hot water, heat, working drawers, mail delivery and other essentials. Thusly ignoring the water pressure, I went about finishing the chores around the house, including laundry and cleaning myself up a bit with a nice hot shower. About three hours later I picked up Annie from Dad’s day out and only then found out about the local crisis at the water plant. It turns out we had been in a “boil advisory” all day long. I don’t know how this information could have been delivered to me at home, but if I were running things I would have started with the television, which I had tuned in to the news.

We have one water treatment plant here in Shreveport and it is called, get this, the “Amiss” Water Purification Plant. That’s a joke, right? Well, at the Amiss Plant yesterday, a two foot pipe broke and between 15 and 20 million gallons of water spilled out before it could be fixed. I have no idea how the plant works, and finding out would probably make the forthcoming opinion a more responsible one, but here goes anyway. How is it possible that the second largest city in Louisiana has only one route for its purified water? Is it not possible that the city could have put a system in place where in the event of emergency the water is routed from another plant?

Let’s have the official unveiling of the fictional sister plant to the Amiss right here…The Awry Water Purification Plant. It will be located on the opposite side of Cross Lake and have a few features that marginally improve on the old plant. First, at he the new plant the shutoff valves that shut off the water in an emergency would be located above said water. Second, those very same valves could be turned off with something less than the 100 to 200 turns that is took the multiple firefighters in wetsuits. Oh, and lastly, the new valves would not be “several feet wide with very fine threads!” I was thinking something like a switch in a warm, dry room somewhere on the grounds would work. It sounds like the Amiss plant was the set for the final scene of an Austin Powers movie. The only things missing were the sharks with lasers.

Now naturally the only reason that a resident would be upset by this is because it is affecting their lives and family, and I am pretty pissed. I have Gymboree at 11 O’clock today and dinner plans tonight at seven. What are you going to do about this Shreveport? What’s that you say, how is Annie doing? Is she affected by the microbiologically compromised water? Oh, yes, she’s fine.

January 9, 2008

Competitive Parenting

Annie is nearing the age where my life is going to get really complicated. She is sitting up regularly and will soon be a Gymboree Level 1 graduate! Have I told you how competitive the other moms are? If not, I will in a moment. Once, she graduates, she moves out to the big kid room and starts throwing blocks and rolling on beach balls every Friday evening. I guess there needs to be teachers for everything, including making a mess of our apartment.

After sitting up comes crawling, and the real fun begins. I am baby proofing the house in my mind while I write this and there are perils everywhere. The one that I am most afraid of is the leaning bookshelves losing their lean all over her head. I know she isn’t strong enough to do this, but you’re reading a man who still worries that she is dead after an extra long night’s sleep. After the bookshelves I worry that she will roll under the couches and suffocate. I don’t think there is a way to baby proof either of these things. The shelves are too big and I can’t put gates in front of the sofa. Can I? Finally, I worry that her streak of fitting all types of objects in her mouth will soon include the dog. I don’t think Zoe will like that very much.

The next thing you know she will be walking and then the worries grow exponentially. What if she puts her finger in an electrical socket? What if she hits her head on a sharp corner of the TV console? What if she damages the TV itself? I can’t have that. Baby/HD. Baby/HD. It’s a tough call, I know. The good news is that once she is walking she can get a job and support this growing family. Baby, be of use!

Okay, the moms at Gymboree. A couple of months ago, when our teacher told us that the criterion for graduation is sitting up unassisted, the competition began. The next week all of these moms were propping their kids up on pillows or spouses thighs and pretending that their babies were accomplishing something special. You never saw so many unprepared babies bouncing their heads off the floor in your life. This doesn’t bode well for school and sports. People are crazy. I pledge to you here to let Annie grow in her own way and for both of us to enjoy the milestones as they come. She will be plenty competitive once we start playing tennis and I take it to her on a daily basis.

January 7, 2008

Season Five, Episode One

“Americans are by in large stupid people. We pretty much believe whatever we’re told.” So goes a line from the opening scene in season five of The Wire. I will be posting here every Monday in the hopes that this is true. If you aren’t already watching this show, you need to be. You can go to your local video store and rent the first season today and I promise you will be hooked by 9 O’clock tonight. With any luck, you will have finished the first four seasons by the time this final season gets pulled from HBO on demand.

Something that is also true of Americans is that we often don’t enjoy being told what to like. I am firmly entrenched in this camp, especially when it comes to music and television. My friend Mike has been telling me to watch The Wire for years now and the only reason I eventually did was due to boredem. I had already watched every episode of Entourage on demand and needed something to kill time while waiting for Annie to wake up from a nap. Now here I am trying to push you into watching when I’ve only been a fan for three months. So I can see how you may not be ready to take this one on. But you should know that one day down the road you will watch this show and you will love it. Too bad that when this happens you won’t have anyone to talk to about it.

The first episode of season five, as is typical of The Wire, gives us a taste of some old story lines and then takes us in a completely new direction. Like the four previous seasons David Simon thrusts us into something new, just when we were comfortable with the old. On the surface, this sounds cruel, but it keeps the show interesting and the viewer on their toes. Every great show becomes stagnate eventually, because the creators pander to what advertisers and executives have deemed is the show’s base. This doesn’t happen with The Wire, both because it airs on HBO and because its creators don’t seem to care what you think.

Okay, that’s enough of the crap that you would normally read in a professional review of a TV show. Hopefully it will be that last of this that I foist on you. Now we can get down to the meat of these Monday morning sessions. There are a few staples that I have planned. First, I’d like to go through some of the nuances that make the show great. Second, I want to have a segment called “Omar’s Wisdom.” I’ve discussed this before, but here is a refresher. Omar is the baddest man on an incredibly bad show. He makes a living sticking up the drug dealers in Baltimore without thought to how many people they may have killed. He also is comfortable giving information to the police about the people he just stole from. There are two great kickers to this: One, everyone knows who he is and what he does, and two, he’s gay and everyone knows that too. It is evident when watching the show that being a snitch and being gay are the two worst things a man can be when working the drug trade in Baltimore, and yet nobody gets to Omar. He is without question the man.

The third recurring theme that I have planned (as of now) is the McNulty watch. Let’s start there. My boy is back off the wagon and in one hour he has successfully stumbled around drunk in two scenes, cheated on his wife, and cursed the people he works with. Fortunately, in the upside down world of Jimmy McNulty, this makes him a better police. You can see it in his eyes. It’s embarrassing, but I get chills just thinking about the next nine hours of him taking it to Marlo (the current most powerful drug dealer in the city.)

There was only one subtlety that I picked up last night that really cracked me up. In a scene where Michael, an up and coming drug dealer, is playing Connect Four with his little brother, there is a crappy cliché of a forensic cop drama on the TV in the background. Perfect.

As for Omar's wisdom. Like I said, bad dude, and full of great takes on society as a whole. He often kills without hesitation, yet time and again he is the most principled, sensitive (in his own way,) and astute observer around. That being said, he didn’t appear in episode one and that leaves me with nothing. So standing in for him today is Norman, one of Mayor Carcetti’s confidants. In a scene where they are discussing the merits of accepting state money to bail the city out of its deficit, he tells the mayor that without the money he is “Just a weak ass mayor of a broke ass city.” Succint and poetic. A strong fill in.

Okay, there will be one more feature that is more housekeeping than anything else. At the beginning of every episode we are shown a quote that either sums up the feel of the ensuing drama or is just too good not to highlight. Every night, my wife and I compete to guess who will be the deliverer of the quote. So far, over the course of 51 episodes I am up two to one. Sad I know, but when you try it you will see how difficult it can be.

Last night’s quote was from Bunk Moreland, a staple in this game. “The bigger the lie, the more they believe.” This winds up being in reference to some interesting interrogation practices that the detectives use involving an office copier standing in for a polygraph machine. We were out of practice last night and so excited to be watching in HD for the first time that we forgot to guess. My lead is safe for now. I just need to keep distracting my wife with popcorn at the beginning of each episode and my success is assured.

January 4, 2008

Thunder Thighs

Just got back from the doctor’s and at six months old Annie has begun to fulfill her fate of being a little meatball of a baby. During her checkup today we learned that Annie is now in the 75th percentile for weight and just the 50th percentile for height. If you will remember, for the first four months of her life, these stats were inversely proportioned. Like her mother before her (who had diaper rash in between all her fat rolls, not just her butt cheeks,) Annie is beginning to lean towards the plumper end of things. My sister tells me she looks and feels like a ham. Mmmm.

Annie also had two more shots today for her six month inoculations. She is getting better at dealing with them, and once you pop a bottle in her mouth she is fine. At this point it doesn’t faze me at all. This next baby will be lucky if I worry about him (I want a boy, so lets just use him from now on) if he falls down the stairs. I can’t imagine what it would be like if we had more children after that. I think that after three or four times around your kids must raise themselves. Who could possibly have the energy after all those years to worry about things like nap schedules and what they wear to leave the house? The last kids in large families are strangely clad galoots who could withstand a falling pot to the head with nary a whimper…yes that means you Bobby P dot.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with an update on my wife’s health. She feels better every day and last night even had rice and beans for dinner. What? The problem with this is that if we don’t have a boy she may try and rationalize trying again for my sake. That’s the thing with kids; you have a short memory regarding the difficulty and pain of it all. I barely remember letting Annie fall off the couch last month. Did I forget to include that story in my December update? Whoops.

January 2, 2008

Hi there

In retrospect the month of December, in which I posted only twice, turned out to be Annie’s most action packed month yet. I won't be surprised if in that one four week span she will have reached more milestones and sprouted more than any other month yet to come. I will get to all of those milestones, but I first need to address my absence.

First, the good news…we are pregnant again. Just saying we though, makes me feel guilty about the bad news. As with my wife’s first pregnancy, she has been extremely sick. Many women get morning sickness, but what she gets is 24 hour sickness. I will never comprehend the full nature of how she feels, but witnessing someone you love not eat more than a cracker at lunch for four straight days is less than fun. In the span of three weeks she lost 20 pounds…that’s 15 percent of her bodyweight. Without sounding too dramatic, I began to fear for at least her life. Consequently, she spent the better part of two weeks in the hospital receiving intravenous fluids. After that, she spent another five days with an IV at home.

She is still not completely healthy, and if this pregnancy is anything like the last one, she will be nauseous for another six weeks. However, every day she eats a little more and regains her strength. Fortunately none of this has affected the new baby and our first ultrasound looked great…like a puffy Thanksgiving Day parade balloon shaped like a pig.

So, over the next few weeks I will try and process what it means to your old Unfinished Dad to be facing two babies instead of one. I have this Annie thing down pat, but the Annie and ______ thing, hmmmmmmm.

Okay, so the reason that we are here is my little Annabelle. Next year this space will take on a frenetic pace as I will be posting while chasing a toddler and simultaneously wiping a newborn’s butt. However, for now we will yield the floor to her.

While we were home in New Jersey Annie reached a few major milestones. The first came by accident while playing on the floor at Grandma Liz’s. She has been flirting with sitting up for a couple of weeks now, but usually either lays flat on her stomach (just the idea of being that limber kills me), or topples to her right. She was doing just that on Christmas Eve and then I walked into the room on Christmas Day and she was sitting straight up, like a woman with perfect posture. Two days later she was sitting for 30 minutes straight. I guess it just clicked for her.

The second leap forward that she took was in the nap department. For this I will thank both Grandma Liz and Grandma Kathy. Before they got their strict veteran mitts on her, Annie’s naps rarely lasted more than 45 minutes. Now, after three weeks she is taking two regular naps a day: One at around 10 a.m. and the other around 2 p.m. Both of these naps last for almost two hours. Who knows what I will do with all the extra time.

The last accomplishment is slightly less grand, but still fun to watch. Annie now holds her own bottle…um, when she feels like it. This usually last for about 30 seconds at a time, but during that half minute you should see how much I accomplish.

Now that we are back down south I will be writing regularly again and looking forward to hearing from my loyal 11. Thanks for your patience.

Oh wait, for whoever read my post on my friend Jimmy, please accept my apologies for being so insensitive. I truly do love him and only want the best for his future, but at the same time, my entertainment shouldn’t have to be compromised. On a related note, The Wire’s final season begins on Sunday night. I will be posting my thoughts about each episode every Monday morning (read afternoon),(read night),(read sometimes Tuesday). So I will title each post with a spoiler alert for those who have Tivoed or OnDemanded.