"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." - Henry David Thoreau

Friday, July 30, 2010


Okay, I haven't posted in a while and here's why;

1) My mother-in-law had knee replacement surgery last week.
2) I've been with my beloved child pretty much non-stop since then.
3) My wife has been a nervous wreck about juggling her job, dealing with her mom's surgery and home stuff.
4) I missed my weekly session with my psychotherapist (or, as I like to call her, The Xanax® Lady) for reasons stated above.

I am pretty lucky when it comes to my wife's family. I get along with pretty much everybody. My mother-in -law (we'll call her 'Kathy' because...um...that's her name) is a great lady. She's been a huge help with our daughter, even watching her a couple days a week to give Daddy a 'Sanity Break.' But, she's been having a tough time with her right knee and needed to have it replaced sooner rather than later.

Kathy went into the hospital for the surgery last Tuesday. She stayed until the following Monday, then moved to a rehab center which actually feels like a nursing home. You know what I mean...the place smells like a bladder infection mixed with industrial disinfectant. Shortly after being moved, the knee began to turn yellowish and swollen with the surrounding tissue looking taut and waxy. Oops...

Of course, we thought it would be a good idea to get a Doctor to look at it. Right...? A Doctor was called. Again. And again. And again. Finally, the nurses kinda thought it might be a bit urgent to get Kathy transferred back to the hospital before, you know, her knee exploded. And so, a second surgery was performed! Sigh. All seems to be progressing well at the moment. We're not sure when Kathy will be back at rehab, or even IF she will be going back to the same place. Of course, there's no way of telling at this point even when she will be able to go back to her home.

So, basically, this summer is sucking like a hooker with asthma.

No one is having fun here.

Thank goodness I got a tiny respite this week because my daughter has 'camp' for a few hours each morning. My poor wife is a basket case because she has to run from work, to the hospital/rehab center, then back home to bed. No time for vacations or weekend trips. Everyone is on edge, but there's really no one to blame. It's just how things are.

I feel worse for my mother-in-law, though. I mean, she gets this cool new bionic knee and she can't even use it to jump over tall buildings like Jamie Sommers. That totally sucks.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

...Cash Machine.

Well, NOW I've gone and done it. I am, once again, a bum. A tramp. A vagabond. A shiftless deadbeat layabout. The same as famous hobos throughout history like Mr. Wilson Fancypants, Balloonpopper Chillingsworth, Slow Motion Jones and, of course, Gary Busey.

You see, a little over a year ago, I was laid off from my job. Just another victim of the imploding economy. And, like the millions of others who suddenly found themselves without gainful employment, I took advantage of both state and federal unemployment insurance. This is an invaluable lifeline for those who need some kind of income during tough times.

Sure, it was only a fraction of what I was making while employed, but it certainly allowed us some room to spend on dinner and a movie once in a while, or the odd luxury now and again. We certainly were not in the same shape as a lot of Americans who really depend on that income for necessities like rent or utilities.

In my case, the benefit is more psychological than financial. When money is coming in on my account, even if it's a gov't check, I still feel like I am contributing to the household income. In the past year, I have looked around for jobs both full and part time. Not much out there and even less when it comes to anything remotely in my chosen field of Journalism. So, I've been sucking on Lady Liberty's teat all this time. It seems, though, that the milk has dried up.

I believe I have used up my benefits and am now among the many Americans who are S.O.L. My options are these: I can get a job selling used rubber bands to shut-ins or I can remain a jobless loser.

Now, over the past year, I have come to relish my role as a SAHD*. I love spending time with my daughter and I am grateful that I can share so many special moments with her. She's at a wonderful age now. Before you know it, she'll be a moody teen with a Dad who intentionally embarrasses her in front of her friends at the Mall.

To be honest, I kinda want to continue playing this part in her life. So, I am torn. Do I settle for a job that will probably make me miserable just to make a few bucks, or do I stay with my child and feel guilty that I am not contributing more to the household income? Is this how women who choose to stay at home feel? I mean, it's true that all I do is eat Bon-Bons and watch my Soaps all day, but dammit, I throw some pancakes at my kid once in a while too!

No matter what happens, though, I am still very fortunate. My wife has a good job and even without the extra income, we will be just fine. Others, however, aren't so lucky. Hopefully Congress will get off their collective asses and help those who really need the extra benefits just to keep their heads above water. Something needs to happen before more and more Americans are left without any means of support.

In the meantime, I'll be getting my stick and bundle ready and I am giving myself a new 'hobo name.' I'm thinking maybe Grizzly Adama or Sans-A-Belt Sal. Any other ideas?

What you NEED to know about Congressional Dithering On Benefits (Huffington Post)


Friday, July 9, 2010

..."Dizzy Dean."

I swear, if I hear another story about LeBron James going to Miami, I am going to slam dunk my skull into the nearest granite kitchen countertop.

I mean, really? The media is treating this like it's some Big Damn Deal. Is it? I have no idea. The only televised sport I despise more than pro basketball is...is...well, COLLEGE basketball! I'd rather be strapped to a metal lawn chair in 100 degree heat while forced to watch 24 straight hours of the Trinity Broadcasting Network than be subjected to 10 minutes of any NBA contest. Honestly, when the outcome of 90% of these games is decided in the last two minutes, what's the point? What does it say about a sport whose only two requirements to play are to be freakishly tall and have a giant attitude problem to match?

As you may have already surmised, I am not the world's biggest sports enthusiast to begin with. This probably stems from the fact that, as a child, I had the athletic ability of a boiled shrimp. I was short, uncoordinated and withdrawn. I was the kid who was always picked last when it was time to choose teams in gym class. I'm sure if there had been a kid in my class in a wheelchair with asthma and an eyepatch, he would've still been picked before me. I dreaded the thought of any balls, be it base, basket, dodge or soccer, coming anywhere near me. This must also explain my irrational fear of soap bubbles and gay nightclubs.

Not exactly the stuff of sports legend in the making here! I was never under any pressure to be good, though. My dad showed little interest in sports when I was a kid, so I was never pushed in that area, thank God. Actually, my mom was the sports fan. She loved her Phillies and Eagles (or 'Iggles,' if you're from the area). She loved to watch the games on tv and, in the case of the Phils, at venerable old Veterans Stadium (which no longer exists, for good or ill, depending on your memories of the place).

Our family had season tickets for Phillies home games on the weekends. My mom would take me and I'd be more interested in the soft pretzles and hot dogs than the game itself. The only real memories I have of those games are A) Squinting at the scoreboard trying to read the scores, which led to my first pair of glasses at the age of ten and B) almost being killed by a foul ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals' outfielder George Hendrick. Despite my sloth-like reflexes, I was able to barely dodge that missile and it broke the kneecap of the poor woman sitting behind me. GO TEAM!

My opinion of sports did change for the better after the Phillies won the World Series back in 1980. Now, that was a great time to be a Philadelphian! Granted, it was pretty much the only great time to be a Philadelphian, but I digress. Now, I live in the Boston area where they eat, drink (especially drink) and sleep sports 24/7. Of course, they also have great teams like the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics (oh, and it's supposd to be pronounced 'KEL-tix,' you illiterate townies!).

Maybe I'm lucky because I never grew up with dreams of attaining glory as a professional sports player that went bitterly unfulfilled. Nah. I have plenty of other dreams that went bitterly unfulfilled. But, we'll save that for another time.

If you'll excuse me, I gotta go play catch with my daughter. She's got a wicked good slider. For a four year-old.

Friday, July 2, 2010

...Chlorine + Barium Chloride (BaCl2)*

I was never a big fan of the 4th of July as a kid. It's not that I wasn't appropriately patriotic or had no love of barbecued meats. I certainly do on both accounts. No, my lack of enthusiasm for the 4th was primarily due to my dislike of fireworks.

"What? You don't like fireworks? What kind of commie pinko liberty-hating flag-burning traitor are you, Comrade Killjoy?"

The worst kind! When I as a kid, I had all kinds of problems with my ears. I was prone to terrible ear infections and had tubes embedded in my ear canals several times as a child. For some reason, loud sounds really bothered me and fireworks were among the worst. It became a phobia. Growing up, we had season tickets to see the Philadelphia Phillies and I'd dread the thought of Mike Schmidt hitting a home run because that meant they would set off some fireworks and I'd freak out.

So, naturally, when the 4th of July came around, my anxiety level went up to '11.'

This fear continued until an incident that occurred when I was twelve. There's a technique that mental health experts use to help alleviate an individual's phobias. It's called Exposure Therapy.
In a nutshell (get it? phobia=nut? nevermind...), you expose the person to whatever it is they fear in a controlled environment. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Of course, that's only when it happens intentionally.

In the Summer of '80, my dad managed to procure some really cool (and definitely illegal) fireworks from a co-worker. Mostly lightweight stuff like firecrackers and bottle rockets. A few M-80s, too just for a bigger bang. My dad would light a fireracker and toss it into the sewer grate on the street next to our house and listen to the boom reverberate through the pipes. Hey, it was the suburbs...we got bored easily! Anyway, one day I got up the courage to light a small firecracker and toss it down myself. I lit the fuse, threw it and listened to the bang. "Cool!" I thought to myself. So, I lit another. And another. And maybe a few more. Finally, there was just one left. But, there was a problem. I couldn't get the darn fuse to light! I tried and tried, but to no avail. After the last try, I gave up and was walking back into the house...

BANG! The firecracker went off in my hand. The series of events that followed are quite literally burned into my brain. I remember my ears ringing. I remember not hearing myself screaming like a little girl. I remember running into the house, refusing to look at my hand for fear that it WOULD NO LONGER BE THERE.

When I finally did look, my hand was charred like a coal miner's. It hurt. Bad. My mom tried to calm me down and ran my hands under the faucet to make sure I wasn't bleeding and, you know, to see if my fingers were dangling from the rest of my hand by loose tendons or something. I was pretty lucky. No serious damage. I didn't even need to go to the hospital. Lesson learned!

I'll tell you what though...after that, I wasn't so scared of the fireworks in the sky. So, I guess Exposure Therapy works. On the other hand (no pun intended), I've never lit a firework myself again.

Happy 4Th of July!

*BaCl2 is a chemical compound used in making fireworks. I know. I'm reaching.