Monday, December 21, 2009

Snowed in, tracking packages and being upset about it solves nothing.

We have been looking forward to taking our holiday vacation to Colorado to visit both my wife's family and my family.  With Angie pregnant, it's important to us that they are involved and this year will be the first year we will be with our entire family, both sides.

However...

The airlines had other ideas.  AirTran, the airline with hands down the worst customer service phone system in the world, decided to preemptively cancel all fights leaving Sunday, December 20 and Monday, December 21.  Our flight was canceled on Saturday the 19th.  We, fortunately, booked through Orbitz.  They informed us.  AirTran did not.  

(BTW, ORBITZ IS AWESOME!  They tried to help us right away, looking for alternate flights, but AirTran locked them out of their system, making them unable to look at flights or access refund information...  Big ups to Ahmed at Orbitz... the only superstar in this entire story.)

Back to our tale.  We sprang to action.  We immediately started calling AirTran.

AirTran's phone system is set to run you around several automated prompts and then they hang up.

I know this because that is what I dealt with for almost two hours, redialing over and over.

My wife was doing the same.

When we finally did reach someone he told us the only option we had was to reschedule the flight.  When prompted, he admitted that he could give us a refund.  We considered paying for a flight with another airline, but it did not guarantee we'd leave Sunday.

My wife and I come from a snow culture.  I hope one day my son will be able to live out there, to experience it.  Utah has the most beautiful snow and you can smell a big storm.  We didn't smell a big storm.  We knew flights would go out and this would be considered a huge fizzle.

We rescheduled for Tuesday, since AirTran decided to cancel, not only Sunday's flights, but Monday's flights as well.

The next morning, when our flight was supposed to be taking off... there were flights taking off.

Of course there were!  Our sidewalks were clear (our super had shoveled them earlier) and the streets were dry.  There were piles of snow from snow plows and there was about 6 inches of fluffy snow on the cars.

Flights were leaving both Laguardia Airport and JFK.

We began calling AirTran again, to see if we could get out Monday.

Again, with two phones calling, it took us two hours each to finally be put on hold.  Two hours of a phone system designed to simply hang up on you.

DO NOT FLY AIRTRAN.  That's my advice, in case you didn't catch it.

I was the first one on hold.  My wife was put on hold about five minutes later.

Her call was picked up first.  So much for "in the order of your call."

When we finally got a human being, after two and a half hours, that human being said, "You should have called earlier."  (It was 11 in the morning.  We'd started calling at 8:30 a.m.)

She said it was our fault for not getting an earlier flight when we called the day before...  when the earlier flights were all canceled.

I know... the logic is dizzying.

We explained that we had a Tuesday flight already but were looking to depart on Monday.  She said she could get us on a flight...  Wednesday.

Why in the hell would we want a Wednesday flight if we already have a flight Tuesday?  Either this woman is a complete moron or she's just being a bitch.  We figured it was the latter.

This seems to be a trend.  The corporation can tell the individual to "get bent."   Their employees have been empowered, not to help you, not to solve your issue, but to tell say, "screw you, what are you gonna do about it?" 

We have no recourse but to blog about it, write a letter that will get read and then tossed in the trash.  We are essentially powerless.

Need another example?  I had a package sent to me via UPS.  It was my wife's Christmas present.  I tracked that thing for days.  Suddenly the tracking site says it was delivered.

I did not receive it.

I live on the first floor.  Right next to the door.  I can hear him put his finger on the buzzer, which is not quiet...

I did not get a buzz, I did not have a package, here was no package left for me, there was no note or delivery notice from UPS.  Nothing.

Online, there was a notation that the package was left at the side door.

I don't have a side door.  I live in an apartment building.  We are connected to twenty other buildings.  A side door would be the front door of the bodega down the street.

And I was home!  Why wouldn't you just buzz me or knock?

I asked the neighbors next door... no one had dropped anything off.

I called UPS.

Their answer?

"Sorry.  We did our job.  We delivered it."

Yes....  TO THE WRONG PLACE!

I was told I had to call the company from which I ordered the item.  They would contact UPS to do a trace, then they would start an investigation which could take months.

Why not just ask the driver?  That would be far too simple and UPS really doesn't care.  As long as the package get's delivered... somewhere.

So, I went through the trouble of contacting the store, putting a trace on the package, reordering the item so they could send me a new one, getting a refund on the first one - it was a pain.

An hour later, a neighbor from upstairs on the second floor came down...  with my package.

On the front it had our address and the apartment number:  1L.  Written underneath - "delivered to 2R."

Why?  Who knows.  He never even came to 1L.  Why not put a note that says, "left at 2r"?  Because he doesn't have to.  He could have tossed it at the building as he drove by and that'd be okay.  Why?

He's backed by a corporation.  As long as he delivers it, the rest is not his problem.

In the eighties, The Supreme Court gave corporations the right of person-hood.  A corporation has the same civil rights as a person.  I don't agree with it, it's been the subject of much debate and pointed to as the cause for many problems, but what are you gonna do?  It's like fighting a giant... and you're a gnat.

So, AirTran or UPS, or any corporation for that matter, was granted the rights of a person...  But I don't think that necessarily gives them the right to act like assholes. That's always been the sole consolation for our lack of real power... We could always have our righteous indignation, we could be very nice and then, be upset because, doggone it, we still matter!  It was our only way of standing up to the man.  a single finger raised high (you choose the finger) and a string of words strung together colorfully.  This "person," still in its infancy, would apologize, help you reschedule your flight and give you vouchers for a flight anywhere.  This "person" would say, "We're so sorry, Mr. VanDijk, let's find that package for you."  That's what I would do.  That's how I was raised. 

This "person" has grown up and now knows that we individuals have no real power against the rising tide of corporate indifference.

Heaven help us all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We are NOT those parents... I swear.

We are NOT those parents who are applying to schools before our child is born.

We are NOT.

We are NOT those parents who are pushing our child to read by four months, to speak four languages by three. We are NOT.

We are NOT those parents who have already enrolled this unborn child in basketball camp. Or baseball camp. Or soccer camp.  Or football camp.

We DID buy a babyplus system... We want him to self soothe, be active and alert at an early age... the fact that children who are exposed to the babyplus curriculum do read earlier and develop language skills early have nothing to do with it...  swear.   (the fact that a five month old fetus is on a curriculum is NOT strange.  Seriously.  Because we are NOT those parents.)

We ARE playing him a mix of Mozart, Beethoven (Ludwig Van!!!!), The Beatles, Miles Davis, Celtic Music, Django Reinhardt, Indonesian traditional music, and flamenco guitar...  We have our bases covered.  I really wanted to put together some Led Zepplin and Van Halen... but I was vetoed.  Because we are definitely NOT those parents.

We've put this music together and purchased huge headphones to place on Angie's belly, not because of the benefits of music to a fetus' brain development but because we'd like to bond with the baby... I mean, it's something we do... sit around and listen to Beethoven and traditional Indonesian music... it's part of my Dutch-Indonesian heritage...

Seriously.

We are NOT those parents.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stay at home dads

I've been reading a lot about being an expectant dad and there's lots of information out there about what to do once your baby is born.  Much of it is from the woman's perspective - what to do as a new mom.  For stay at home dads it's sort of been - "Do the same... only without the breast feeding."

Stay at home dads come from all walks of life. Many worked corporate jobs, I've known some who were grad students, professors, recently unemployed, artists... I'd fall into the latter category. I was not downsized. We do not have a traditional two income household and my wife definitely makes more money that I do.

I'm an actor.

My writing partner will tell you I'm a writer. I am. It's becoming more and more what I do. But that's mostly because of a stubborn persistence in making my own work. I have recently made the decision that I am finished with the bullshit involved in acting in New York. I do not kiss enough ass, nor, apparently, do I kiss the right asses.   I am finished with dealing with the gatekeepers to this work, to which I have dedicated my life, who treat actors like they are stupid.  Those rare champions of actors (you know who you are) have made working in this town a joy.  But I am finished with getting my hopes up during final call backs to have a movie actor walk in and take a job. I am finished with pleading with self important pricks half my age, attempting to prove to them that I am worthy of their representation. My time and my talent are far to important. I will do it, stubbornly, on my own.  (I said I was done with the bullshit, not with acting.)

Because I'm an actor.  Persistence defines who we are. 

My wife and I had this exact conversation - the one many artist have when they bemoan their career choice and wish they had gone into finance or some soul-less yet lucrative career or that I hadn't taken her up on her offer to drop out and join the peace corps before starting a family.  Something meaningful.

My wife said, "You're going to be raising a child.  What could be more meaningful?"

In the end, you can't take any of this with you.  None of it.  The paycheck, the swimming pool, the big house.  In the end what you leave behind are the lessons you share - the things you teach your children and the people they become.

Actor...  Writer...   The occupation I'll be most proud of is Dad.

Here's where I give a shameless plug to a friend's book.  A fellow stay at home dad.

Joe Schatz from Dad Blogs has a new book out.  It's not a how-to.  There are plenty of those.  This one is nine years of "things I've learned as a stay at home dad."  I'll be reading it.  The title alone is worth the price of the book.

Go support one of my fellow stay at home dads.


Daddy, where's your vagina?

Friday, December 11, 2009

post often...

I've been breaking the first rule of blogging:  post often.

If my life were that interesting, trust me, I would post every day. 

It's not.

I did learn a new rule today.  Don't ever ask a pregnant woman if she's sure she isn't having twins.  If she were, she'd tell you.  This question came from a woman who probably thought she was being cute.  She wasn't.

I'm married to a woman who has gone from a size 4 to a 2 to a zero.  (much of this has to do with the new sizing system in America... It's more about making a woman who is a size 12 feel better about herself by saying she's really an 8 - not about my wife shrinking). 

That said, my wife is just small.  She's petite. 

And she works out.  She's on the ball every morning, doing her yoga, slinging my kettlebell around, trying out my TRX... I see her.  She's in great shape.  From behind, you wouldn't know she's five months pregnant. 

She is. 

Pregnancy is traumatic.  Your body goes from this fit machine to suddenly looking like you've swallowed a pumpkin... whole.   Everyone is staring at you.  She feels self conscious.  She's fragile.  There is a tiny creature inside her that wakes her in the middle of the night, moves around when she least expect it.  It's a strange thing. 

It's beautiful.

So don't make stupid comments that you find cute.  They aren't.  

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tiger, Tiger burning bright, driving your car into a tree at night.

(This is part of the Dad-Bloggers project)

9 Irons, and Tigers and car wrecks - Oh, my. 

Through out this entire epic saga I have been asking myself the same question:  "Whose business is it, anyway?"  I would hate my personal life to be played out in front of the world. 

I'm sure there are many of you who say, "He's a public figure and therefore..."

No.  His job is one which involves us as spectators.  He is paid a great deal for doing his job in front of a very critical/adoring public.  When he goes home, he goes home.  It should be the same for all of us.  We don't follow a clerk home from the store, our dentist, our priest... 

There are women in bikini's now standing on the road with signs for Tiger.  "Tiger!  I'll be your mistress!"  What do these bimbo's want?  For him to pull over for a quickie? 

He still has a family and whatever decisions lead to him cheating are known only to him.  What they do now is also known only the he and his wife.  As a husband and a father to be, I would hate the kind of scrutiny they are getting. 

None of us are perfect, though some scream and pontificate as if they are.  This scenario would never play itself out on the evening news for a ninety-nine percent of us.  Let's give them the same opportunity.

It's time we stopped goose-necking and left them alone.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Odd Wifely behavior.

My wife hums when she's asleep. 

This is new but it does not seem to be cause for alarm.  She just hums.  It's never really a song I recognize.  She hums a little tune to herself and the baby. 

She's been having such a difficult time sleeping so rather than wake her I just let her do it.  She's always been able to sleep through anything.  Not this.  This is an entirely new thing. 

I have passed my insomnia on to her. 

However, when she does sleep... she hums.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Flutters!

We're in the middle of the really cool part of the pregnancy - lots of firsts.  We've just had our first flutters.  Angie feels these little flutters and she grabs my hand and suddenly I'm feeling our baby doing kicks and dancing around.

He apparently likes Irish dulcimer music.  At least that was what he was dancing to most in the 42nd Street Subway Station.   He went crazy.

Angie said it's like she feels a sloshing - like a swimmer doing a kick turn.

I've been reading Daddy books.  Part of the reason for doing this blog has been to possibly collect thoughts and ideas for a book from the perspective of a first time Dad who is going to be a stay at home father.  Unfortunately all the books so far, despite being informative, give advice to Dad's who are obviously going to be in the workforce five days a week.  There's lots of advice on how to bond during the first few months, after you get home from work, kick off your shoes and wait for dinner... 

I'm going to be the stay at home and my wife will be the 9-5'er.  We've been talking about the schedule we'll set up when she returns to work from maternity leave.  We're working on making sure she has that time, but what about the father who is at home all day? 

There are lots of us.  There are even places that cater to us, like Dadgear.com, the coolest dad bags ever...  (shameless plug... please give me a free bag...!)

Perhaps I'll have to write the book.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Boy's Club

People have strong feelings about finding out the sex of their child before it's born.  Some feel it's one of the few surprises in life.  We didn't need that surprise.

We found out we're having a boy.  I know these things can be wrong, but we got a pretty good view during the full body scan at the Fetal Evaluation Unit at Roosevelt Hospital.  Boy.

In fact, on the print out of the scan, right next to my son's schpoondle, is the word BOY.  The doctor typed it in, just in case we weren't sure what was in that photo.

I know Angie is excited.  Five months of calling this child "she" are morphing into calling him "he."  I'm glad we found out.  I've heard of women who have a hard time after nine months convinced it's one sex then giving birth to another.  It's not that they don't love the child, but that their expectation was so different.  Angie only took a day to truly wrap her head around it.

Then she said something that nearly broke my heart.

"Just don't let it become the boy's club, okay?"

I never thought of us having a boy suddenly making her the odd man out... or odd woman out, as the case may be.  In fact, I never thought of any kind of exclusion because of the child's sex.  (I will be praying for a girl next time.  Balance.) 

I do understand her feelings. 

I'll be at home with my son most of the time.  After Angie does the heavy lifting of the pregnancy, I'll get to do all the fun stuff with him and she'll be the "girl" of the group.  None of this occurred to me because I was raised, like most people our age, with my mother at home.  When I was older, my mother worked but I'd do homework in the kitchen, helping her cook - only because my dad's office at home was boring and he'd be working on things that didn't interest me:  most involving math.

I hate math.

But my mother's kitchen interested me and that's where I was.  We spent time there.  My father and I spent time naturally, because as men, we do have common interests.  He'd take me to soccer and basketball, coach little league, take me fishing.  But my mother and I had time.  There was a balance.

I don't want her to feel left out.  She will be reading him all the classics, The Swiss Family Robinson, Huck Finn...  she gets home, it's their time.  We'll play catch during the day, and I'll teach him how to run a fade route and play defense in the post - Angie will teach him to be centered in the evening, doing her yoga with him playing on her mat, teaching him to love language, art, music and dance.

Food is my area.  He'll be shaping baguettes by the time he's 3.  

Time.  I will have the gift of time with my son.  But my new goal is balance.   I want to make sure she has plenty of time alone with him.  There's no reason there can't be a girl in the boy's club.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Criminitny it's been a while.

Sorry for the amount of time that has passed, faithful reader.  (Mom)

I've been swamped with another writing assignment.  Our first pass at the latest screenplay is finished.  Thank you to everybody who read it, did our reading and put up with us during the two weeks of intense work... I've gained a good 10 pounds from doughnuts, coffee, croissants and apple pie.  (most places make you eat or drink to use their free wi-fi, I drink way too much coffee when we're working and I need to do something with my hands in the down time... hence the pie...)  Anywho... DONE!  All that's left is to wait for notes and begin re-writes!

I have been contemplating my impending new life as a stay at home dad.  There is going to be ample time to continue writing and I am excited that this new phase of my life is about to begin.  I have my writing space set up and it's a cozy place just off the baby's room.  Perfect.  Not to mention, I'm blocks from a cafe that is extremely stroller friendly so I can sit with all the moms and work.

I realized I had fully embraced this whole child rearing thing when I wrote a character who often has a baby sling on or kids running around.  It's the part that I wrote ostensibly for myself.  A part that I'd love to play.  As such, it became a reflection of how I see myself and how I see my life evolving.  I am a big brother, a goofball, passionate, easy going...  I will be a cool dad.  Not "skinny jeans" cool, but rather "strap goggles on my kids when I serve them pancakes because syrup is going to go everywhere" cool.  I will be the guy who has on a baby sling during a game of touch football and doesn't see anything wrong with it.  It's touch football!  What's the worst that could happen?  This world I was co-creating on the page was the world I was envisioning for myself, not just to do it on screen, but actually living it.

My writing partner, the brilliant Ambarish Manepalli - newly minted holder of a French visa... congrats! - let me indulge in this little fantasy.  He actually fed it.  He pushed me to find those moments when the character does "Chris dad stuff."

Looking at this first draft, it's incomplete, but pretty close, which is perfect.




Wednesday, November 4, 2009

But... We HAVE Health Insurance...

My wife is getting the run around.  For an ultrasound.

It's a long story but the insurance company has denied the claim, then approved the claim, then denied it, then said it's pending, then paid it, then said it's denied and now pending again.

No one seems to know what is happening.

And we have great insurance.

We need a serious change.  The public option for a small number is not enough.  The status quo is unacceptable.  My wife said, "I don't understand how we have a public education system that basically says we have found a way for every child in the U.S. to have an education...  but we can't figure out how to get everyone health coverage."

Health care is a right.  It should not be a for profit business that gives incentives to deny you care... Care you and your employer pay for.  Care that is there to make you better, but is more interested in keeping you sick. 

We have insurance and we're still nervous.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

An Only Child

It's very early, I know, but I have been thinking about how this first child will be, for a while, an only child and whether it might be forever.  I'm not sure, yet.  I know it's early.  My wife said it was waaaay too early to be thinking about a second.  Maybe we could adopt.

(This was said during one of the peanut's hourly hot flashes that she lovingly shares with my wife.)

My in-laws were visiting this weekend and my father in-law was watching the family of feral cats that live behind my building.  The kittens were rolling around, playing, chasing each other.

My little cat, (okay, she's not so little...) sat on the couch.  Uninterested.

She's a little socially awkward.  She loves us and she curls up next to us, purring, all the time.  When I write, I will occasionally sit at my wife's desk next to the bed.  The cat will sit on the bed behind me, curling up so she is leaning against my back.  She's adorable.

She's also quite a bitch to anyone else who steps foot through our door.  She hisses, she swats, she growls, she hides, she bites.  She's not nice.

An opened front door is not an invitation for her to leave.  At one time she would skittishly approach the door and look out.  Now she does not.  She's uninterested.

I blame myself.  Angie and I never had people around in our little Salt Lake apartment.  The cat was never around people other than us.  She also was an only child.  She had no one to play with, or more importantly, to socialize with.  (If cat's socialize.)  And I treated her like she was a puppy for a while.  She was good at playing fetch.  But I also traumatized her, I think.  She's a cat, not a bulldog.

I don't want my child to be like that.  I know it may be a strange thing to think.  I'm pretty sure my child will be just fine, even if an only child.  But still, I think about it.

I want my child to be able to love, to play, to want to experience more of the world then exists within the walls of our apartment.

New Photos are up

There are a couple new photos up on my photo blog.  Click the link at the top.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

An amazing post by my wife.

Call me lazy...  I am cross posting something from my wife's blog.  It's a really wonderful post about patience and teachable moments.  We have too little of the former and the latter we pass ignore far too often. 

Working on a post for later, inspired by the feral cats playing in the back alley and my own cat's indifference.

Here's the post.

Enjoy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

grace and goodwill

Yesterday, as Chris and I were heading home from church, we saw an elderly man sitting at the top of a staircase leading into the subway. A young woman leaned into the man and within moments had her arm linked around his and was leading him down the stairs. Another young woman ran to meet them, taking the man's cane and cup of coffee so he could grab onto the rail as the group took their precarious journey downward.

Needless to say, this all slowed the usual flow of comings and goings to a near-halt. But the crowd was remarkably patient. Sure there were a few that jumped to other side of the staircase, so they could hurry to the platform, but most took their time and allowed the man and his companions to inch their way down, step by step. I suppose they realized that an extra five minutes would unlikely cause a serious disruption to their Sunday agenda.

All except for one woman and her two young children. Who, once on the platform, pushed their way forward past Chris (who was now holding the cup of coffee as the elderly man looked for a post on which to lean) and past the others who were still waiting until the man was safe and settled. And it just struck me, that here was this woman who was given an opportunity to teach her children about patience and compassion but instead was too fraught and too hurried to notice such a window. Or as Chris said, "It's hard to teach others patience and compassion when you have little of either yourself."

One other thing that has continued to trouble me about the experience: the man had a hospital bracelet around one wrist. And I am once again reminded of how little our current system provides. Clearly this man was not in a position to navigate the city and yet he appears to have been dismissed from the hospital with what seems to be little support, guidance, or after-care.

So here's my prayer for the day: given that we must depend on the grace and goodwill of our neighbors each and every time the system fails, may the majority of our neighbors be filled with such grace and goodwill.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Ride

I keep hearing advice from fathers who have been through all of this before.   They keep saying to just enjoy the ride.

I am.  It's about all you can do, as the man.  I will start flipping through the book, What To Expect When You Are Expecting, so I can understand why my wife's body temperature has suddenly skyrocketed.  For now, I'll try to stay open to whatever is happening.

Enjoy the ride.

I'm working on it.

The thing I keep hearing from men who have not gone through this is, "Get sleep now."

This is a sweet sentiment, but also a rather nonsensical one.  It's not like I have a stock pile of sleep and when I'm tired, I can just make a withdrawal.  It doesn't work that way.

And why would I want to sleep?  I'll miss half of it  I have far too much to do, way to much to prepare to waste time sleeping.

The baby keeps my wife awake.  My wife, who has been able to sleep through anything, is now an insomniac.  She wakes up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep.  She says it's training for when the child is born.

I think she's right.

Stock up on sleep?  I can sleep when I'm dead.

Right now, I'm enjoying the ride.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cat Insurance

This last week we spent a great deal of money to treat our sick cat.  She's a little over 13 years old and has been our child for as long as we have been married.  Her illness was serious and possibly life threatening.

After numerous tests, an ultrasound and cancer screening, x-rays, two tooth extractions and a major surgery, she's back home and is now fine.


Our vet is wonderful, but they did not keep us abreast of the mounting costs of her care.  When confronted with the bill, we had to figure out what we wanted to do to cover it.  Do we put it on the credit card and then pay the interest or do we dip into our savings.

Over the course of the last five years, we've been stashing money into an account for a trip to Peru, to climb to Machu Pichu.  Rather than pay interest (we tend to keep a very low or zero balance on our card) we decided to simply take it from the Peru account.

Almost all of it.

Now, understand there was no question.  You just do it.  Peru isn't going anywhere, barring some major catastrophe, like a giant asteroid of a major volcanic eruption... in which case we have other things to worry about.

We paid it.

She is now at home, shaved belly and all.  We couldn't be happier.

However, it got me thinking.  At the Vet was a brochure for pet insurance.

Pet insurance.

If we'd had it, in some form, we'd have had certain things covered.   But we didn't, so it all came out of pocket.

What if it were a child, instead of a pet?

What if we were one of the 40 million in this country who does not have health insurance?  We'd have to dip into our savings to pay the bills.  How long would that last?

Thankfully, we only dipped into one little savings account that had been set aside for a trip, but what if it were our "savings" and we had nothing else.

We are not people who abuse the system, we work, we pay our taxes, we contribute to the collective good.  We could quickly have nothing.

It was suddenly easy for me to see how so many families get into trouble.  They just can't make ends meet because of one hospital bill.  It happens every day.

I promised this blog would not get into politics, but with this issue I think it's deeper than a political divide that it has become.  It is about the lives of Americans.  Americans who are suffering because we have chosen to make our health a commodity to be bought and sold on Wall Street.

It's wrong.  We deserve better.

For everyone who pounds their chest and screams "America, love it or leave it!" or puffs up and defiantly proclaims "We're the greatest nation on earth" but has made the decision to fight against giving all American's access to health care - you should be ashamed.  Your false patriotism is sickening and counter-productive.  Your ignorance stands in the way of progress. 

I had a moment of "What do I do?" with a cat.  I can't imagine if it were my child.  No one should have to make a decision between feeding their families and paying a medical bill.  Between paying rent and paying for medicine.  Not in America.

Thinking we, as a country, are the best we can ever be leaves no room for us to strive for better.  It lets us all off far too easily.  It means we have nothing to aspire to, to work for...

But perhaps that's what some people want. 
Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.
Arthur Schopenhauer

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wild Things...

I saw Where The Wild Things are this past weekend.  Most of us in the theater were in our late twenties to late thirties, the generation first introduced to the Wild Things.

Some critics were harsh on the raw emotions shown by the film, raw emotions that are ugly and frightening.  Raw emotions that are felt by children who experience the complete spectrum of emotions without perspective or filters, who experience them instantly and sometimes simultaneously. 

It reminded me what it felt like to be a kid:  fear, anger, love, joy, jealousy...  all of those wonderfully full emotions that are experienced so fully and completely. 

It also reminded me of the power of the imagination.  I work in imagination.  I create things from air; characters from nothing; fully fledged stories sparked from half formed ideas.  The imagination of a child can completely take them somewhere - they create and destroy entire worlds in an afternoon.

I hope I can find a balance of encouraging my child's imagination while keeping an eye on the emotional roller coaster that is childhood - all the while letting my child fully experience it, never interfering but always available to nurture, guide and protect.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I can't even keep a cat healthy

My cat was not eating for a couple days.  We freaked out.  It's like a Ghandi-esque fast to a human.

Not that anyone who has met our little Chat Lunatique would mistake her for Ghandi. 

So I took her to a new vet.  He's just down the street from our new apartment and he's great.  We went over her x-rays and blood work and EKG... 

The first thing he noticed was that she had a cavity. 

That's the reason she's not eating.  She can't eat her dry food because it hurts so much. 

He also informed me that she was dehydrated and very weak, had mild asthma and kidney stones.

I was terrified/disturbed/upset...

The teeth thing is entirely my fault.  The doc was really great about not blaming me, or even insinuating blame, but it's my fault.  We've tried to brush her teeth but she hates it and it's like fighting a buzzsaw with a toothbrush.  But I'm 6', 185 pounds.  I should be able to take a fifteen pound cat.  (I should also be able to put a pill down her gullet and make her keep it down... sneaky thing...)

So.  Cavity.  Periodontal disease is the number 1 cause of most heart/kidney/liver/organ issues in pets. 

Fantastic.  I'm slowly killing my cat because I didn't take care of her teeth. 

Thank God the kidney stones aren't my fault. 

So, sick kitty and I came home.  She was a little traumatized and probably not looking forward to the appointment for an ultrasound - and dental - and kidney stone surgery that she doesn't know she's got on Tuesday.

She ate lots of her wet food.  I went through the process of collecting urine for testing.  We fought over the antibiotics and whether or not she was going to take them.  She eats the pill pockets and manages to leave behind a perfect, pristine pill.  We're at the "pry her mouth open, toss it in and hold her mouth closed" stage and Daddy is winning.

But the question I have is:  What kind of father am I going to be? 

I promise I will brush my child's teeth.  I promise that once he/she is old enough to brush, I will make sure it is done at least twice a day.  And we will visit a dentist twice a year.  And floss.  Every night.

I am hoping I will be more perceptive to things like a toothache being the reason for not eating.  I thought it was stress and life changes and some psychological thing...

Nope.  Cavity.

I am hoping I don't start to cry at the doctor's office when they tell me my child has cholic or strep throat. 

I cried when the vet told me the cat was dehydrated. 

DEHYDRATED! 

Somehow, I think everything will be fine.  The cat is sleeping on Angie's lap (always finding the exact baby spot to lay down on) and purring away.  She's been overly affectionate.  Again, Chat Feroce has been an affectionate cat but always on her terms.  Now, she won't leave us alone.

I can imagine a child would be the same.  Needy in the same way.  I remember just wanting my mother when I was sick.  Sometimes I still do, wishing she were in my kitchen making me her fantastic chicken and rice soup.  Plus a child can tell me when he/she is sick.  I don't have to guess; there is no mysterious combination of tail gestures and meowing.  And I've been through some of it.  I was a kid.  I do remember.

Maybe I'll be okay after all.  Check back in twenty years to find out how the kid turns out.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Babies R'Us

Angie met me at the farmer's market today.  We grabbed a boat load of apples and some herbs and then she told me she was taking me somewhere special... 

Babies R'Us.

Good lord.

I was suddenly overwhelmed. 

So much stuff!  Do we need all this stuff? I don't even know what any of it is, but it seems like we might need it.  It all looks necessary.  How did anyone have children before this stuff?

Is it better to rent a breast pump?  Did you know you can rent a breast pump?  Apparently that's something people do.  Rent a breast pump.  Do we need the breast pump backpack?

Baby bath tubs...  Can we use a sink? I don't know...  I need to know.

And the clothes!  There were mini Jets and Giants outfits... I guess we'll have to pick.  I'm partial to the Jets because there's something blue collar about them.  I'm a Giants fan, as well, but I just like the scrappiness of the Jets... and we've been to a Jets game...  that counts for something.

There will be Yankees gear... male or female.  No Mets.  No Rockies (sorry grandma) unless they are in Colorado.  While they are in NY... or anywhere outside Colorado, there will be pinstripes.  Yankee pinstripes.

Cribs, strollers, car seats, strollers with car seats, umbrella strollers, swings, playpens. 

I'm going to have to move to a new place, a warehouse, just to have room for the stuff!

It's a little insane.

I can't imagine what people did when they had children before Babies R'Us.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We're in week 15.

I'm waiting for the wife to pop.  It hasn't happened.  She feels fat, but she hardly looks pregnant.  I keep announcing it.

"Wouldn't you like to sit...  since you're pregnant?"

No one believes it.  She's still this petite little thing.

I've heard around 16 weeks she'll just pop.  She'll suddenly have this big baby belly. 

I'm waiting.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The female perspective...

My wife is currently watching a video on YouTube of a woman in labor.  She's in an inflatable kiddie pool.

It's obviously a water birth, but a kiddie pool?

I was thoroughly freaked out by what at first sounded like porn and then suddenly turned into this scream fest.  It was like a movie written by horror writer extraordinaire Jeff Dixon.

(Shameless plug.  You're welcome, Jeff.)

As I sat terrified in the corner, my wife calmly said, "Seriously, a blow up pool?  C'mon."

She then turned to me and added, "You are not allowed, under any circumstances, to bring a video camera into the room."

I measured the appropriate comic beat before responding, "What about a kiddie pool?"

For more from her perspective, go to "The Actor's Wife" and read her posts.  It's a nice counter to mine.  You can also link there from here.  Up at the top is THE ACTOR'S WIFE; my favorite blog.  Click it.  It's her.

Do it right after you get out of your kiddie pool.

And if you enjoy reading, please remember to share this.  There's a little link for that, too.  We're creating a community here folks!  

Sunday, October 11, 2009

IKEA, the new father's best friend

We got to IKEA yesterday at 9:30 a.m. because someone - me - had misread their opening time.  Luckily they were serving a free breakfast.  A free breakfast that normally costs $1.  A huge savings of two dollars to start the day.

Not bad.

In order to get to bedrooms to get our PAX wardrobe system and Kompliment drawers we had to get there right when they opened.  We'd been checking availability online, as they suggested, and there were 9 wardrobes at the Paramus IKEA.  There is an IKEA in Brooklyn and one in Long Island.  They are within minutes from us here in Queens.  They also consistently do not have what we needed in stock.  The IKEA in Paramus is almost twenty miles away, as is the one in Elizabeth, NJ.  That's a full day's trip in this area.  While we have everything at our fingertips here, the trip twenty miles outside the city has to be planned.  You rent the van, you gather your cash for tolls (which you pay to get into Manhattan and again to enter Queens, but not to enter New Jersey... what does that tell you?), you plan the trip across the tri-borough bridge, through the Bronx, dip into Manhattan and across the George Washington Bridge into Jersey.  It's an easy drive.  Just takes planning.

So, we beeline to the kiosk and order.   As we leave, we decide to walk through the children's section. 

I am suddenly aware of how adorable a sun shaped light is.  I covet the light shaped like clouds.  I would like to pair them with one shaped like the moon. 

I have never noticed the giant leaf.  It's a leaf that hooks to a bed post or... whatever, and swivels to act like a shelter.  It shades a small person from the sun shaped light.

I have to have one.

Cribs. We look at cribs.  We look at blankets.  We look at burp rags.  We look at little hanging netting thingies that be used as storage for... stuff. 

I'm overwhelmed.  I love it. 

We make purchases we did not intend to make... 

It is IKEA after all. 

We look at dressers.  (I am thrilled by this because I've been wanting a new dresser for a while but the wife has countered with "Where the hell would we put it" every time I mention it.

So, I moved her to a place where I can get another dresser. 

Today it is her idea.  We look for something just big enough for us and a child's clothing.  I realize just how much we are looking ahead.  Every time we think of getting an item, we ask, "Baby?" and reassess. 

Getting two eight foot tall cabinets into the van and into the apartment proves to be a challenge, but not as big a challenge as building them. 

It is IKEA after all.

Armed with a screwdriver and a hex key, I am able to assemble two monstrous wardrobes a dresser and an end table.  With a cordless drill, I can do it even faster.

We are now the proud parents of two gigantic new custom closets.  (What we added in space in our new place, we lost in closet space...  there wasn't one, unless you count the small coat closet in the study.)

One word of advice to the weekend do it yourself-er.  (like my brother...)

Put the hinged doors on first, then decide where to put in your railings, shelves and drawers.  It will save you the aggravation of having to move everything after it's already been installed.  Something they don't tell you. 

Also:  Measure twice, cut once...  or drill once, as the case may be.

That one is free.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Yanks!

Another walk off by the Yanks! 

No matter the sex of our baby, we will taking them to Yankee Stadium.  They will learn the history of Lou, Babe, Dimaggio, Mantle, Maris, Reggie, Jeter...

I'm excited to dress them in pinstripes.

Apples!

If you have never been apple picking, do it. 

Go now.

I'm sure I'll be taking a bag and dragging a pregnant wife out to the orchards of New York... near the sad hill they call a ski resort...  to pick apples.  It's ever so much fun.

This is the reward for the IKEA run we are making tomorrow.  We are not buying baby furniture yet.

That's saved for Trimester Three.

But we will be looking.

Back to the apples!

Angie makes applesauce.  It's unbelievable.

I couldn't wait for Monday.  So, I went to the farmer's market and grabbed a ton of apples ($0.75 a pound) and cranked out a tarte Tartine.

Here's the recipe:  Go to Mark Bitteman's site, http://bitten.blogs.nytimes.com/, and look up the recipe.  It couldn't be easier.  He just explains it better than I, but it's so simple.  A huge saute pan overflowing with cored, peeled quartered apples put over a moderate heat with some sugar...  Just cook the hell out of it until you've cooked out the liquid, add butter.  (yes, Ethel, butter.)




Carmalize them... just brown and sugary and gooey.

Toss them into a smaller, buttered saute.  (from a 12" to a 10" or a 10" to an 8"... whatever, this is a pretty loose-y goose-y thing...)



Top it with a pastry crust.  It can be store bought, puff pastry, filo... again, whatever.

This is a good opportunity to try your own crust.  I made a pie crust in about 15 minutes.  It was straight out of Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything.  He writes about learning from Marion Cunningham, author of the Fannie Farmer Baking Book and a pie genius.  Easiest thing ever.  I"ll never fear pie crusts again.  Try it.  Makes enough that you can put on into a tart mold and freeze for a little tomato, goat cheese, arugula tart...  mmm... 


And read the book.  It's brilliant.  (Rishi, good luck getting your copy back.)

So!  Back to the tarte... apples, butter, sugar, pastry...  slip it into that oven you've had waiting at 400 degrees and bake for a bit... Take it out, carefully - it's like lava at this point - shake the pan to loosen, cover with an upside down plate, flip and slap some good ice cream on it.

Perfect.

It's a skill that will serve you well, you stay at home dads... An easy apple pie that you can whip together and make it seem to your spouse that you've slaved on it all day.  

Much the same way you can clean the house in under an hour, bathroom included, before she gets home... That's actually something she does to me.  Reads all day and then pretends she's slaved over the house.

I do the same.  On my days off, I sometimes shower at 4pm and manage to get dinner on the table right quick claiming it's taken me forever to prepare it.  I tracked the beast, killed it with a pocket knife, butchered it and cooked it just after I harvested the good for the salad...

My question is this...  Will I have time, with a child, to get away with this trick or is a constant game of catching up?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

This blog

Bear with me... I'm going to be changing templates, trying to get it right, get the style right...

We're also toying with the name.  The Artsy Father came to me because of the impression that I, as an actor and writer, am "artsy fartsy..."  I've always thought it was funny, that phrase.

But we started thinking of the word, "father" and Angie said, "It's the word.  It's kind of a mouthful...  I don't see our kids calling you father."

The word conjures images of Masterpiece Theater and little children with shirts buttoned up to their throats saying, "Father, please can I keep the pony, father?"

It's funny if done with an English accent...

No.  My kids won't be calling me father.

But I still like the name.

So, bear with us while we get this thing right.

Stay at home dads

I am not alone.

I have several friends who are stay at home dads.  We're a growing community.  My friend Matt Briggs writes his own Dad blog over at http://dadsdilemmas.blogspot.com/.  There are stay at home dad groups that get together in Central Park.  There are stay at home dad fantasy football teams...  Dixon, Matt, Sam...  I'm looking at you guys.

It's interesting to find ourselves addressing these gender roles head on.

My brother in law asked if I was going to be a stay at home dad and Angie'd go back to work.   I'm sure Angie was bracing herself for his reaction.  It's not something we grew up with.  There were no stay at home fathers in our neighborhoods.  No soccer dads... there were dads who coached soccer, but no "soccer dads." 

There were unemployed deadbeats...  but that's different.

Not anyone who did it by choice.

My brother in law said, "Yeah, I guess we always figured that was how they'd do it."

Thank you.  Angie respects the opinion of her family so much and that validation helped.

I have realized that I am not alone.  Stay at home dad's of the world unite!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

This is what all the hubub is about...

yes... that's a nose, and mouth and fingers...

Cool, no?

And yes, my child is sponsored by General Electric.  



Food!

I’ve long believed that food is love. 

Angie and I never had a conversation about the division of labor in our home.  Things just sort of fell into place.  We each have a different skill set and for some reason mine included a number of domestic skills. 

Blame my mother.

Or my grandmothers.

Or the numerous kitchens in which I worked to pay for my first car, prom, rent, drums, all the crap I accumulated in my twenties…

Angie’s skills - her patience, her tact, her singleness of purpose and focus, lend themselves to what she does.   I have not mastered these skills.

So… I happen to cook.  And as the stay at home pater familias, it’s a skill that should serve me well.

Unless Angie’s craving happens to be jelly beans.

Like now.  Nothing I can do about that other than hike to the bodega in search of jelly beans.  (Damn you “The Middle” and your jelly bean in the car storyline.

I jumped down to the farmers’ market today.   It’s a perfect fall day.  Heirloom tomatoes the size of soccer balls.  Fresh herbs.  Macoun apples.  (Some of which Angie will make into applesauce and some will find their way into a tart Tartine.)  I’m planning ahead for when we make our own baby food.

I’m finding that comfort food is something Angie craves.  Especially if you consider pastrami from Katz’ comfort food.  Which in NYC, we do.

I worked my special chili today.  No ground meat.  (The way we get our ground beef in this country should really be a crime.) 

We’re doing some tomato goat cheese tarts, the afore mentioned apple pie, I’ll be baking baguettes, Angela will be working the applesauce and we’re making granola.

What goes into your mate’s body also goes into your child.  We’re only doing whole foods; real food. 

And no high fructose corn syrup.   Guess she won’t be getting jelly beans after all. (Don’t believe the ads put out by the corn industry… the sugars in hfcs are a processed sugar your body doesn’t know what to do with.  It may just be a coincidence, but since we’ve replaced sugar with hfcs, rates of autism have risen as have rates of obesity…  would rather not risk putting that into my child.)

So, in the sense of community, I’m putting out a call for suggestions…  What do I feed her? 

Send your recipes!  I might share my magic chili.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

You knew it was coming...

Sex:

It is possible to have sex with a pregnant woman.

I know this sounds like a no brainer, but it’s sort of scary to think about sex with your wife while a small creature is growing inside her.

It kind of freaks me out.

(Which is probably what my father in-law is doing right now.  You might want to skip this one, Mike.)

Apparently sex is not only good for the mother, it’s good for the baby… my wife convinced me of this when she told me, “It’s like a massage…”

Needless to say we had a good laugh over that one, too. 

See… sex can be both fun and funny during pregnancy.

Fix what's broken!

October 5, 2009

A short to do list:

Get healthy. 

I have an old separated shoulder that never healed correctly, a torn rotator cuff in the other shoulder, knees that ache, herniated discs, sciatica, a torn thumb ligament…  basically I’m your average man in his late thirties.

I want to hold my child. 

That’s exactly what I told my physical therapist. 

I want to hold my child.  And teach her how to hit a tennis ball, shoot a free throw, a proper lay-up; teach him how to catch a fade, take him to a yankees game with our mitts in hope of a dinger coming our way.  I want to carry her on my shoulders through Times Square, hold his hand as we walk through the Bronx Zoo. 

Get healthy.  You’ll need it. 

Sleep

Sleep:

Why do people tell you to get plenty of sleep?  You can’t store it up.  It’s not like there’s a bank of sleep.  Ten hours tonight will get me through tomorrow. 

I’m more concerned about my wife getting enough sleep.  I’m not the one with a small alien growing inside me.

October 1

Weeks 1-14

Advice to expectant fathers:

There is a lot happening that you will not understand and to which that you will not feel connected. 

It’s okay. 

When you first hear that you are going to be a father, the excitement is unbelievable, but you quickly will feel like nothing has changed.  You don’t feel any of the changes that your mate feels.  But you will change.  Trust me.  You will start to have a sixth sense that will help you create a bubble of protection around her, even in the most crowded subways.  You’ll visually navigate the crowded streets, plowing ahead, forging a path.  You’re her fullback.  Her safety becomes an obsession.  Anyone who enters the bubble is a threat.  You’ll feel it.  The hair on the back you neck will bristle and you will feel emotions rising within you with which you may not be familiar nor comfortable.

It’s okay.

Depending upon how long you have been together, you will notice changes. 

I say that because we just had our twelfth wedding anniversary within days of completing our first trimester.  Over those twelve years, I’ve learned almost everything about my wife.  She’s still a mystery in so many ways, but during this pregnancy, there have been moments I have not been able to recognize her.

If you have not been together as long, these changes will not seem so drastic. 

The first thing I noted was how calm she became.

My wife is a worrier.  She always has been.

Since this pregnancy, she has mellowed so much it’s almost eerie. 

That is not to say she doesn’t have her moments.  I’ve learned that mood swings are commonplace.  Not only is he body reorganizing, her hormones are in overdrive and it makes her… well, insane. 

I have embraced the insanity.  I know there will be some things she says that make no sense, she may fly off the handle, may be overly protective, may be touchy about things that have never mattered before.  She’ll be upset one second, apologizing the next.  She’ll cry and then laugh and then fall asleep.  She’ll wake up in the middle of the night and complain about hot flashes (more on that later) and then she’ll be cold.  Mostly hot flashes.  (again… more later.)

It’s normal.  You can’t take it personally.  You shouldn’t.  It’s not about you.

And along with these new swings come little bonuses:  The glow she has when she wakes up, the baby bump first appearing, hearing her sing and talk to the still forming fetus inside her as she showers, her overly amorous moments when grabs you as you walk down the street.  It’s all a whirlwind of tiny miracles. 

I’m not a very religious man, but I’m a firm believer that all the things that are happening, good and bad, are tiny miracles. 

Hot flashes

October 4, 2009

Hot flashes.

Sometime around week 8 or nine, my wife started having hot flashes.

This is unusual because she has the temperature regulating system of a reptile.  She’s always cold. 

Here she is, though, with my ice packs on her belly. 

Apparently our soon to arrive child is a furnace. 

It lasts…  I don’t know how long it lasts because it’s still happening.  

When I grab my ice packs for my shoulders (get healthy… seriously) I never find them in the freezer.  I know I can always find them on the floor next to the bad.  

Warm.

Which is fine.   I don’t have a furnace growing inside me.

what is that little fuzzy blur?

August 25, 2009

I have to remember to apologize to my sister.  I forgot her birthday. 

Yeah, I forget it almost every year.  This year was tough because she was waiting for a diagnosis on her husbands illness.  (He has a rare form of cancer.) 

So I missed it. 

I will be forgiven this time.  I was sitting with the wife all day waiting for a diagnosis of our own.

We saw the first ultrasound today.

We sat in the doctor’s office for two and a half hours.  When we finally went in, the last thing I expected was to be seated next to my wife while she had her legs in the stirrups. 

I was. 

The doctor came in, told us she was excited for us, did some quick physical checks, pulled out a little wand and bingo-bango, there’s our kid.  At the moment she’s the size of a large blueberry. 

From what I understand, she’ll start growing exponentially.

Then we saw the heart.  It was like watching a blinking strobe.  I was amazed and surprised and exhilarated and scared and numb - all at the same time.

I know she’s not a person yet.  She’s just a little tadpole of a thing.  But soon.  Soon she will be. 

It was watching that heartbeat that it all settled in:  I’m going to be a father.

What does that mean?  How does your life instantly change? 

I’ve been very protective of Angie lately.  I’m understanding what they told us in the evolution of human sexuality class…  Males get aggressive during estrus.  We get very protective of our pregnant females and our offspring.

It’s primal.  Very primal.

I couldn’t be happier.  Just crazy happy. 

Angie is just glowing.  That glow does happen.

It’s an actual change that occurs physically.

We now have a due date of the beginning of April.
Another Aries.  What would happen if she were early?  What if we had the same birthdays?  How do you deal with that? 

We have seven months to find out.

The apartment hunt: take two

August 15, 2009

It’s hot. 

I am so glad we are not having to deal with the third trimester of a pregnancy in this heat.  Angie is miserable enough dealing with this heat in the first trimester. 

She’s not sleeping.

That’s not normal.

My wife usually falls asleep at 8:30 p.m. and is out until the next morning.  She’s slept through car accidents right outside the apartment, gun shots (only once in Harlem), monster thunderstorms and even the riotous hilarity of The Venture Bros. 

But she can’t sleep. 

So, we’re dealing with heat.  And humidity.  And walking with a broker through Astoria.

We told her specifically where we wanted to be.  She showed us one apartment in the area but it was tiny.  We saw lots of apartments that were fine…  Just fine. 

It’s New York City real estate.  It’s impossible.  It’s a game.  It’s a chess match where you pay someone up to 15% of the annual rent to find you an apartment in which the floors are intact and the roof has not caved in.

We walked and walked and walked.

Being superstitious we have not told anyone about the pregnancy.  So our broker, who was quite nice, thought a walk to the furthest reaches of Astoria would be fun.

We found nothing.

We went to meet someone about a place that looked promising at the last stop of the train on Ditmars Avenue. 

We may have taken it if not for the cockroaches crawling on the countertops or inside the cupboards. 

I quickly escorted my newly pregnant wife out.

We stopped for a brief lunch to escape the heat. 

Angie had two more on her list.  No broker, no fees.  Just a landlord with an apartment to rent.

We walked into the first and were pleasantly surprised.  It was funny, but we have vision.  And it fit all of our criteria.

Down the street, 100 feet away lay our perfect home. Just big enough for us to grow for quite a while and perfect in every way.

I had been the one to contact a broker, thinking that was the ideal way to find the best place. 

I was the reason my pregnant wife had to trek across Astoria on a 90 degree day. 

Me. 

My wife had contacted two apartments.

They were perfect.  They were two blocks from a train.  They were within spitting distance of each other.

And at the end of a long day, they were the only ones we needed to see.

The point:

Sometimes our need to be providers gets in the way of our common sense.  I was determined to find the perfect place, to see everything.  I didn’t care what it cost. 

It shouldn’t have to cost anything, and didn’t. 

peanut

August 18, 2009

My wife is still unable to sleep.  She gets to sleep eventually, but not like she used to.  She is actually up and cruising around.  Doing stuff.

We’re surrounded by boxes at the moment.  I know it’s stressful for her.  I’m keeping the bedroom a box free zone.

There is only so much I can control.  Keeping her fed, keeping her surroundings calm.

At this point the baby is the size of a peanut.  Crazy, right?

Starting at the beginning

I'm going to start at the beginning.  I've been writing about everything, but we were not announcing until after the first trimester, so these are entries I made to my own private journal.

August 9, 2009

The blue lines were crossed.  My wife had come out of the bathroom and was very confused.  There’s no way we could be pregnant on the first try. 

The first try? 

Nope.  No way.

But there it was. 

Two little blue intersecting lines. 

I held her and she squirmed out of my grasp. 

“Better take another one.”

That’s why they sell them in boxes of three.

She began drinking lots of water and orange juice.  I told her I was pretty sure it would turn out the same way.

The surprising thing is that the only reason we took the test in the first place was that she was not feeling very well.  We had tried to get pregnant and then, right on time, she had her monthly visitor and I watched her sink a little.  It wasn’t that she was discouraged or depressed, it was only our first attempt, but she was decidedly down. 

She took the test again.  It was the same.  Two intersecting blue lines.  I took photos of them, we hugged again.

“What do we do?”

I had no idea. 

We broke out our laptops and began the search. 

apartment hunting

August 12, 2009

Looking for an apartment.  We’re determined to find a two bedroom in Astoria.  Determined.

It’s not just about size or money… Okay it is.  We want to grow in an apartment.  We want it to be a place where we can grow but also where we can afford to raise a child.

So, it is about size and money.

How quickly things change

We conceived on the first try.

I understand if that's more than you needed to know.

It also happens to be true.

I wanted to start this web log with one true thing. 

How do I know this is one true thing?

I'd rather not get into the intricacies of it all, but trust me, it's one true thing.

I have made the shift from writing a poli-blog, where there are very few "true things" let alone one, to a blog  that is very personal and that I hope will be much more enjoyable to read.  After all, that is the purpose of writing, right?  To have it read.

I write a screenplay so it can be made, not so it can sit in my drawer.  I write this so it can be read.  If it gets a good following, them perhaps we turn it into a community, one where we learn together on this little ride.

So.

I'm about the be a father.

Not really "about" to be... it's going to take another six months.

But, I am the male in the equation, therefore, in six months, I'll be the proud father to a little VanDijk.  We don't know the sex yet, but my wife seems convinced, as does my mother, that it's a girl.

My wife, Angela, who pens the lovely blog, the actors wife, has not been sick.  (knock wood)  We have not had to deal with the dreaded morning sickness.

She's had other issues - she's always hot, which is not normal for she-of-the-wool-sweater-in-June.  And she was awake at midnight.   For those of you who know my wife, that's three hours past her normal bed time.

Things seem to be moving along swimmingly.

So, this is the first of many posts that will hopefully be as interesting and enjoyable to you to read as they are enlightening for me to write.