It's a dark and rainy night in NYC. The Girlfriend is in Europe for work. And after a long weekend of solo parenting three young girls, I just want to lie down on the couch, crack open a bottle of wine, and watch some seriously bad television.
Before I get drunk and turn on the Mets game (the very definition of bad television,) I thought I'd share some quick thoughts with all of you.
SPEAKING OF WINE...
Before the summer ended, the Girlfriend and I took all the girls on a fantastic two-week vacation to visit her parents in Ireland.
In a way, it’s a shame I don’t live in Ireland. Here in America, if you’re drinking in a bar at 11:00 am, it means you’re an alcoholic. Over there, it means you’re a country gentlemen, an artist or a farmer. One thing I've learned about myself over the years is that there are very few things I enjoy more than drinking wine during the day.
Here at home, I find my schedule ill-suited to the rigourous demands of serious daytime drinking. I once read that binge drinking is defined as having “five or more drinks in one sitting.” I’m sorry, but in Ireland, that's called "lunch." Thankfully, a bottle of wine is only four drinks so I'm able to temper my oenophilia back in the States. Everything in moderation, my friends.
Or maybe I just need to move to Ireland.
Tonight, I've come to the conclusion that between work, the kids, The
Girlfriend, and everything else in my life, I'm not watching nearly as
much television as I should.
Lots of people today complain that they would like to have more time to spend with their family. I, on the other hand, complain that I’d like to have more time to watch television.
example: I’ve never watched a single episode of Homeland. It’s supposed
be an awesome show. Like, really awesome. Maybe even better than
Breaking Bad, which I also haven’t seen. I should be watching that too.
haven’t seen Boardwalk Empire, Portlandia, Game of Thrones, True Blood,
The Tudors or all of Mad Men. I’ll
probably regret missing those shows when I’m old, much in the same way
a lot of old people regret things like working less, having the courage
to express their true feelings, or staying in touch with good friends.
Screw that. Not watching more television truly makes me sad.
Unsurprisingly, the girls love television as much as I do. However, being outnumbered 4-1, this means my television diet consists mainly of Glee, So You Think You Can Dance, and The Voice. This is no fucking way for a man to live.
A stronger man might throw out the TV and become one of those insufferable people who brag about never watching TV. I hate people like that. Watch too much TV and yes, you’re a loser. But if you don’t watch any TV at all, then you’re a douche and I don’t want to know you.
to do? Do I get my own TV? Do I force the girls to watch what I want to watch? Do I love TV more than my own
It probably depends on what’s on.
KOREANS & THE IRISH
By the way, my trip to Ireland only confirmed my long-standing belief that the Koreans and the Irish share a special affinity.
More often than not, people call us the "Irish of the East." We're stubborn, hard-working people with chips on our shoulders and a
reputation for being tough, mean, chain-smoking drunks. We're quick to
fight and (sometimes) quick to forgive.
We love boozing, singing, eating potato pancakes, spouting poetry in long drunken monologues, and getting into fights (preferably all on the same night.) Our people share a history of oppression from neighboring imperialistic countries and have a homeland still divided by politics. We both have a healthy disregard for authority. We'd kill or die for our families.
And nobody eats more fucking cabbage than we do.
Needless to say, I felt right at home.
FLYING THE (TOO) FRIENDLY SKIES
Is there any other activity besides air travel that combines so many different elements of unpleasantness in so many varying degrees? What else affords you the opportunity to sample from an emotional smorgasbord containing everything from mere boredom to abject terror?
The wonderful cuisine; the comfortable seats; the fresh cabin air...I could go on for days.
On our Dublin-NYC flight, the stewardess announced that four members of the Sweet Adelaines were on board and we were about to be "honored" by an in-flight performance. For those of you who don't know, Sweet Adelaines is "a worldwide organization of women singers committed to advancing the musical art form of barbershop harmony."
I'd rather listen to a dog bark at a fucking crow than endure the sounds of a barbershop quartet. It's bad enough United was charging me $7.00 for a crappy Bloody Mary but now I had to endure the aural equivalent of waterboarding? You should have seen the looks on our girls' faces. As their inflight movies were paused, all three of them took off their headphones, threw up their hands, and gave me the WTF face.
As payback, I tried to convince The Girlfriend to tell the flight attendants that I was a famous Korean rapper named MC Vanilla Rice and that I'd be more than happy to freestyle some rhymes for my fellow passengers. Gangnam style, yo.
She wouldn't go for it.
THINGS THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN INVENTED BY NOW
- Pillows that constantly stay cool.
- Invisible socks.
- Skype in hologram form.
- Light sabers.
- Home dry-cleaning.
BOOKS I'VE READ LATELY
To paraphrase my boy Kanye West, "Does anybody read real shit anymore?"
"Lionel Asbo: State of England" by Martin Amis
Will any of Amis' novels stand the test of time? As a fan of his work as a journalist and critic, that's the question I kept asking after reading his eagerly-anticipated book about a Dickensian thug who wins the lottery. As always, Amis' writing crackles with witty prose, scathing satire, and flashes of brilliance, yet I was ultimately disappointed. His memoir, Experience, and his criticism, have been far superior to any of his novels since London Fields.
"Canada" by Richard Ford
When we think about the great American books of the early 21st century, Canada may be right up there. In this stark novel about a boy's life changed when his parents make the unlikely decision to rob a bank, Ford displays the skills of a linguistic master at the top of his game. This beautiful book reminds us why he may be our best living author. He writes with a confident, meticulous style that tenderly describes what it means to grow up in America. Ford's empathy, insight and descriptive narratives alone are worth reading.
"A Hologram for the King" by Dave Eggers
While I don't often read book reviews, the NY Times coverage of Egger's latest book was so effusively praising that I felt compelled to read it. The book follows the yearnings and disappointments of a downsized sales executive hoping to score a major technology contract. It's a bluntly simple narrative that lacks any emotional fullness. The writing is as uninteresting as the protagonist.
Currently reading: D.T. Max's Every Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace. While lacking the captivating prose of a great biography, it has a certain encyclopedic quality that is sure to galvanize DFW fanatics.
MY DINNER WITH ANDRE
While I am writing this and getting drunk and listening to my ipod, Yo Yo Ma just segued into The Notorious B.I.G. It made me wish that this playlist were a dinner party. I would either cook or make reservations for the three of us at a cool neighborhood restaurant where we could discuss the nature of life. Afterwards, we could all drink tequila and play round-robin backgammon.
THE DOWNSIDE OF DIVORCE
Being divorced parents who share custody of our children with our ex-spouses, The Girlfriend and I frequently talk about how greatly we underestimated the extent of the pain we'd feel when we weren't with our kids all of the time.
Don't get me wrong. We're both comfortable with our divorces and have no regrets about the choices we made. We may not have known it at the time but, in the end, we think they were decisions that will make us, our kids, and our former spouses ultimately much happier over the long term.
Yet you can't possibly imagine the overwhelming sense of withdrawal we have over the girls when we're not with them. If the girls were our romantic crushes instead of our kids, we'd spend all our time looking them up on Google, checking out their Facebook pages, riding our bikes past their house, dialing their numbers and hanging up before the phone even rings. It's a painful physical and emotional longing that scorches our emotions of guilt, remorse, sadness, shame, pity, anger, fear, and sorrow.
Sure, there are times when we're all together and the girls are driving us so crazy that we sometimes turn hypocritical and want a break from the non-stop Mardi Gras festival that is our life as a co-mingled family living in close quarters.
But you can't imagine how painful it is, after an amazing week with them, to have to send them to their other parents as we hold them tightly to our chests and whisper in their ears, "See you in a few days, darlings. We love and miss you more than you can ever know."
It's the hardest thing I ever have to do and it breaks my heart every time.
These are my girls...