A picture falls off the wall

It’s 4:07 a.m. 

An unusual cough from the monitor

Followed by 40 minutes of flailing,

Flogging, fear and loathing, 

And finally a plea for a sign 

That it will be okay 

but

It’s that cough again, then again

The baby’s throwing up 

Again and again 

We wait it out on the couch

The sickness passes as

Daylight saving peaks 

No answer

But fatigue has a way of numbing 

It down 

  I was sitting at the bar drinking a Trooper, mouthing the words to “We Are The Road Crew” and trying to devise a strategy to defeat The Famous Kuma Burger when I read the news.

I came to Chicago with a notebook and every intention of beginning a story for my children; the one that has been floating in and out of my slumber deprived mind since I became a stay at home dad. But now, with the kids sleeping marginally more consistently and beginning a less daddy dominated educational path, my head has been able to breathe in more than just our .37 acre world…ah…only to exhale a swamping of smelly toddler like babble in dire need of pen and paper for order but those thoughts have been momentarily muted with… 

Seeing you at Radio City Music Hall, wondering if I was the youngest soul not dragged there by their parents…

How the years may have faded my Santa Fe “I have tried in my way to be free” tattoo but the mantra still pilots my “Bird On A Wire” mentality…

That unsent letter I wrote you when I was living in Madison alone, cold and drunk, then I remembered you were at Mt. Baldy broke, refraining but ordained…

The night at Merriweather Post when my wife whispered in my ear that you were the sexiest old man she’d ever seen and I agreed…

How just yesterday I listened to Songs of Love and Hate, the copy with the orange A&P thin sliced sticker in the corner from Aunt Dana’s record collection…

That my daughter knows you are the author of the Shrek song I often catch her singing to herself through the baby monitor, Lord how it pleases me….

That the last time I visited this city it was to attend my college fraternity national convention but I skipped it to spend the day in the Water Works photocopying “Death of a Lady’s Man” and then ditched my brothers attempts to get into bars with fake out of state ID’s for a park bench, a yellow Hi-Liter and a pack of Cigarillos…

Ah again…so this morning I sit in a coffee shop under the brown line yearning for tea and oranges but settling for a cup of black local roast and writing.

L. Cohen, Sincerely

I thank you.

The first compact disc I ever bought was The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking. That’s right, I said compact disc and not cd. I guess I could of said record or cassette because I had it on those formats as well, but what I’m trying to get across is I’m not so young anymore.  With three kids, four and under, I’m feeling it today especially since today my wife returned to work after 12 weeks on maternity leave.

So, the day began at 5:23 AM, which is where that album comes in with its time titles (I still think it’s genius) and me thinking this could be an unreleased track, with my middle kid screaming “DADDY” at the top of her range. Now normally her time is 6:30ish, but thank you end of daylight savings and an extra innings Mets game five meltdown, I was not mentally, emotionally or any kind of -ly prepared to deal with this.  Thankfully (there’s the       -ly again) my wife rescued me (and probably my two year old) and took charge of the situation.  The next thing I know it’s kisses, group hugs and she’s out the door to resume her working mom life leaving me alone to figure out how to defend 3 on 1. Well I managed when there were only two kids so……

The first time out of the day was about 7 minutes after the screen door shut, when the middle one dumped a bowl of cereal over the four year olds head. And help me understand this, the four year old was more upset that her sister was in time out than being an innocent victim of her minionism. Meanwhile, the baby is just chilling in his swing. Good baby.

The next incident of the morning was when the middle got her hand entangled in the olders hair resulting in me having to use sissors to free her. Yup, you heard right, she had her fingers wrapped so tightly they were turning red. How did this happen you ask, well while I was changing the very good baby, the middle grabbed a chunk of  her sisters hair and started running in a circle like a tether ball. The four year old instigated the whole incident yelling “go doggy go.” Fortunately, my oldest has beautiful think hair like mama, so it is not very noticeable to the untrained eye but my wife certainly will, which leads me to the funny after the crying and heart palpitations ended. The older one again sticking up for her cuckoo sister says “That never happened. Don’t tell mother.”

Well, now it’s finally nap time after a walk to the grocery store for bananas and bread, a little outside/bring around the garbage cans time and lunch. All rather uneventful though after the near amputation and scalping most things would be. So I’m writing this while trying to get the baby (notice I left out good) to follow the Dada afternoon sleep plan. All I ask for in the day is one hour to regroup, maybe shower and eat. So, with big sis watching her “show”, which today is an odd English princess cartoon, little sis in her crib wearing a pair of gold shoes, big girl underwear and a mets hat (just to rub it in I’m  certain, it’s the boy’s turn to mess with me. Oh well, it’s only day one and it’s not a best of seven but a marathon which makes perfect sense. Oops, wrong Roger Waters album that’s Amysed to Death and that would put a way different spin on this.  Oh well I told you I was unprepared for 5:23AM.

 

“Good morning America how are you?
Don’t you know me I’m your native son,
I’m the train they call The City of New Orleans
I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.”

 

That is what is going through my head right now. Of course Arlo Guthrie is singing but it is the songwriters songwriter Steve Goodman I am sensing as my fan is shorting out from the gross of pee and poo and “DADA”‘s (oh my). The last 72 hours have contributed to the soundtrack I am currently living.

 

Okay, so quickly let us catch up.

 

Since my last and only post I have been tending to a daughter (almost 3) and recently another daughter (7 months) but besides being a stay at home dad, I am bartending three nights a week. Fortunately because of my seniority I work those nights consecutively and the “bar” follows a restaurant schedule; meaning it closes nowhere near Virginia ABC last call. So generally, I work with travel (when taking a job in northern Virginia everyone should factor in traffic), 4pm to midnight and on the best of nights when the children are on my side I am in bed at 12:30 and asleep at 1, then the baby gets up at 7 and the toddler at 8, so 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep is a possibility though obscure.

 

Then when they are colluding against me, which recently seems to be the case, this is their arrangement for my unravel. One of them is waking up every 3 hours requiring me to either sleep on the floor or rock in a chair for a few hours only to wake up confused and aching in muscles I didn’t know I possessed. And during the day someone has to be either following me everywhere asking questions I forgot there were actually questions for or being carried around everywhere leaving my arm limp and possibly an inch longer than the other. Then there is the ‘no one is allowed to nap at the same time’ rule. Argggggggggg! But it’s the arbitrary moments of craziness that push me to the madness. Like, I finally get the baby to sleep and bribe the toddler with “Sophia the First” so I can take a shower ALONE for the first time in 3 days. Two minutes later, as I am applying shampoo, the toddler is ripping the curtain open and wielding a tube of Butt Paste like a lightsaber saying “dada it doesn’t work” only to find out (still soap in my hair) that she decided she wanted to go to the splash park so the baby needed “suntan lotion” applied. What?

 

Which brings us to the now and why I am finally writing again. After 3 nights of hindered sleep, followed by 3 days of being worked over by truly professional children, I began hearing “City of New Orleans” in my head. I have never been to New Orleans. I have only ridden on trains a hand full of times. I didn’t know who Steve Goodman was until 1989 (five years after his death) when I bought ‘The best of John Prine’ only because there is a snap shot of him on the cover taking a pull from a beer while holding a cigarette in the same hand. I know it sounds dumb, especially since Mr. Prine has battled neck and lung cancer recently, but I was 21 and yeah I was definitely 21. Anyway, then I realized being a stay at home dad often makes me feel like I’ve “gone five hundred miles when the day is done”. Fine. Step back. Take a breath. Okay. I know shortly I will have a life time of remember whens and random giggles at inappropriate moments from my family’s inside shenanigans. That is absolutely okay considering the only other Steve Goodman song I know is “Souvenirs” (coincidentally co-written by John Prine) and that deals with a concept I don’t want to ponder when it comes to my children.

 

If tomorrow is more of the same, bring it on, because I never thought I would ever be so blessed.

 

Enjoy the days between.

 

Hello world, it’s me and if you don’t remember (and I understand) I am going to borrow from Mick and Keith “please allow me to introduce myself”. Today is my first day of being “laid off”. I am old enough to not remember the first Woodstock and young enough to not count on Social Security. I have an incredibly beautiful, intelligent and loving wife and an equally beautiful, intelligent and loving 20 month old daughter. Did I mention I was laid off?

My grandfather worked in a glass factory for 43 years. My father worked 36 years in the school system. Both left on their own terms. I had 12 and half years of my 30 year spreadsheet complete and now I am making lemonade. I will be going back to school, staying home with a toddler and making life as easy as possible for wife while we get from here to there.

The Rolling Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” has been going through my head for days now. I am not a huge fan but Exile on Main Street is one of my five island records. It may be that I understand why my boss did what he had to or that is the perfect line to start any new relationship. Either way “Sympathy for the Devil” is the song of the day, sing it, enjoy it, “Ooo, who, who, Oh, yeah”