Anyone still out there?
Apparently, it’s been SEVEN months since I’ve last written here.
I wish my prolonged sabbatical could be explained by an ambitious whirlwind of hedonistic activity. Then I could apologize profusely for my absence by giving you amusing little synopses of my daily and exciting life.
The fact is that the past seven months have been relatively busy, both in good and bad ways. I’m at a bit of a loss on how best to explain it all, so instead I’ll resort to the wise words of the immortal amphibian philosopher, Kermit the Frog: “Man, time’s really fun when you’re having flies.”
Aside from quitting my job, starting a new business, moving in with The Girlfriend, and enjoying the fruits of our blended family, I’ve also been temporarily sidelined by some medical “inconveniences.” Without going into any detail, one of these has required me to take a mini convalescence.
The upside of this convalescence is that I’m under strict doctor’s orders to do very little except “read, write, walk, talk, shit, and sleep.”
Since I've got about an hour before the Vicodin kicks in, I thought it might be the perfect time to revisit this site, no?
FAMILY RULES FOR DADDY’S RECOVERY
It hasn’t been easy explaining to the three girls (ages five, eight, and nine) why I need some post-surgery rest and relaxation. The Girlfriend and I sat them down patiently to quell any potential fears and explain the very foreign concepts of peace and quiet.
To ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding my recovery, I’ve compiled a list of rules that I plan on pinning to the refrigerator (which pretty much ensures that the only two people who are ever going to see this are me and our wonderful Ecuadorian nanny. Hi Olga!)
1. Mr. Belvedere doesn’t work here anymore. Yes, I did just compare my role in the family to a middling 80’s sitcom character with an eponymously named tv show. But seriously, for just one short week, get yourselves into bed. Pick out your own clothes. Put the dirty ones in the hamper. Pack your own lunch. And please don’t forget to feed the cat. You guys remember the cat, don’t you? The little furry creature you absolutely adored for two weeks and then started treating like an unwanted Furby you got three Christmases ago?
2. Watch the Throne. Gang, I know there’s five of us and we only have one bathroom. It’s tough even under normal circumstances. This week? I don’t care if you’ve crapped your Hello Kitty underwear five times or have to pee so badly, you’re going to get kidney stones. If I want 45 minutes of uninterrupted bathroom time to shit, shower, shave and read the past three issues of the New Yorker, it’s mine. No barging in. No banging on the door. No wiggling your fingers under the door and yelling, “Hey dude, whatcha doing?” I’m hiding from all of you. That’s what I’m doing.
3. The answer is “No.” No, we’re not watching The Disney Channel. No, I’m not making each of you a separate dinner. No, I can’t carry all of you into the bedroom. And no, I can’t change that light bulb in the hallway. Normal services will resume in a week. Until then, please kindly make alternate arrangements.
4. Finders, Keepers. No explanations will be provided when you sadly discover that your favorite ice cream/wine/chocolate/nuts/cake has magically disappeared. And for the record, yes, I did go into your bedroom and eat all the candy that Grandma gave you last week, which you had so cleverly stashed in your pillowcase.
5. About that wine…Vicodins are very large pils. In order to swallow them cleanly, Daddy is going to need a little wine, sometimes a lot. Unsolicited references to Heath Ledger will not be necessary. Thank you in advance.
6. Sexy time…The Doctor specifically mentioned that sexual activity is to resume as quickly as possible. See, he even wrote it down here on this prescription pad. I might not be able to do any of the heavy lifting, baby, but I am willing to experiment and see how quickly it takes to restore one’s serotonin to pre-surgical levels. You know, for science’s sake.
À LA CARTE
Speaking of cooking separate meals, am I the only one who feels like a short-order cook? The oldest girl eats virtually nothing, resulting in a battle of wills that The Girlfriend and I are currently losing. The middle one eats like a sumo wrestler, causing us to take out a second mortgage to fulfill her plethoric protein requirements. And the third seems to subsist solely on white pasta, milk, and rice. It’s like one is on Weight Watchers; one is on Atkins, and the third is on the South Beach diet.
In all seriousness, we’re more than a little concerned about the oldest girl. We're not sure whether she's going through a prolonged stage of being a picky eater or slowly developing an unhealthy relationship with food. Her ambivalence about eating causes us a lot of consternation, to the point that she's going to go see a nutritionist. Have any of you been in a similar situation? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Back in my day, if I didn’t eat anything on the dinner table, my parents would subject me to an hour-long lecture about how my Korean father was raised solely on tree-bark, rotten kimchi, and pebble soup. If any of our dead relatives could see us refusing even a plate of beets, they’d spit on us from the high heavens. When guilt didn't work, the threat of a spanking usually did the trick.
Shit, I still reflexively flinch any time I see a plate of beets.
OVERHEARD ON THE NYC SUBWAY
“I’m so fucking scared of all the rats running around in my ‘hood that I’ve started tucking my pants into my socks.
“I’m thinking about selling one of my sailboats. It's got a leak in the dining room, so I figure why not?”
"Are you taking me out on a date later? Because if you aren't, you'd best get your hands off my ass."
"Yo, that dude is like the gay Mexican Marlon Brando."
“I’m not fat by Texas standards. I’m just fat by New York standards. When I go to Houston, it’s like I’m anorexic. It’s pretty much the only reason that I even bother visiting my parents.”
"Yo, you didn't know they got seat fillers at the Oscars and all those other award shows? It’s so when they pan over the audience, it doesn’t look like a Mets game."
Regardling my beloved NY Mets, I can honestly say that this is the earliest in the season that I have ever hated them. Out of life-long loyalty and a misguided sense of devotion, I will continue to root for them. However, I'd like to inform current team management that these games are being watched under protest.
In a side note, I was in Washington Square Park yesterday, watching a father toss a baseball with his very young son. At one point, the ball slipped through the boy’s hands and nailed him squarely in the face, resulting in an immediate bloody nose. The boy quickly dropped his glove, started sobbing uncontrollably and ran straight to his father for consolation.
I really wish the next NY Met player to get beaned with a baseball would charge the mound in a similar fashion, crying and holding his arms out for a hug. It would make the games eminently more watchable.
Until, you know, they can actually start winning some games.
FITNESS MADE SIMPLE
Since I knew my convalescence would leave me bereft of physical activity for a while, I spent an inordinate amount of time at the gym prior to my surgery.
Living in Manhattan, my gym is normally swarming with intimidatingly fit people. However, during springtime, you’ll find a fair share of people who clearly didn't do much during the off-season and are now desperate to quickly get fit before summer hits. Recently, my gym has started bearing more resemblance to a West Virginia franchise of Old Country Buffet during a families-eat-free, double-coupon night. Some people are so out of shape that you’d swear that any mosquito that ever bit them is probably now on Lipitor.
I don’t begrudge these people for their slowly-paced walks on a treadmill. In fact, I wholeheartedly applaud them for taking action that will drastically improve their lives. It's not easy starting a fitness routine and I'm proud of them for making the effort. I do, however, have one simple piece of advice for those embarking on a new fitness routine.
Put down the copy of US Weekly and get serious.
Any sort of intellectual or communicative endeavor in the gym should be strictly verboten. Reading, talking, or texting while exercising is like wearing an i-pod while having sex. The brain's role in working out is primarily inhibitory and should be reduced as much as possible. As Mark Leyner once said, serious workouts should ideally be modeled on the copulatory abandon of the headless praying mantis.
While we’re at it, stay off the treadmill altogether. Steady-state cardio is vastly overrated, and I venture to say that most people probably get sufficient cardiovascular benefits running back and forth from the fridge in order to catch the latest broadcast of “The Biggest Loser. Do some push ups. Lift some weights. Take a yoga class. Try Zumba. Sign up for kick-boxing. Anything except that walking human habitrail.
PORTRAIT OF A SHADY
The ubiquitous phenomenon known as “the selfie” always makes me ponder what future civilizations will think about this narcissistic period of time defined by obsessively taking one’s own portrait with a cell phone, filtering the image in the best possible light, and dispersing it on social media. Will future generations look back on our selfies with the same morbid disgust that we currently reserve for Victorian-era child mortuary portraits?
I get that we all want to structure the perception of ourselves in a way that reflects favorably upon ourselves. And really, there’s nothing inherently wrong with publishing the occasional self-portrait. After all, one’s appearance is a significant part of the life you’re presenting to the world. Taken tastefully, the “selfie” can even add a bit of context to your never-ending stream of lattes, cats, skylines, blurry concert photos, and food.
However, can we please all make a pact to use the selfie a bit more sparingly, like saffron in a fucking paella? In my humble opinion, selfies should be used about as frequently as one goes to the dentist. Once a year is fine. Twice is acceptable. Three is a bit obsessive. But any more than that and you’re crossing over into the realm of Narcissus.
Oh yeah, one more thing...Stop with the fucking duck lips! You don't look sexy. You look like a platypus prostitute. Stop scaring the kids.
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris: Slightly uneven. Might be of greater interest to new readers rather than long-time followers. Entertaining but doesn’t have the side-splitting humor to which we’ve become accustomed.
The Privileges by Jonathan Dee: A highly intelligent and elegant novel about values, greed, family and modern morality. However, like Chinese food, I felt hungry after reading it.
Tenth of December by George Saunders: Possibly the most highly-anticipated but well-received book of the past year. Nobody today writes like Saunders. His off-beat wit is unlike anyone else. Perfect summer beach reading.
May We Be Forgiven by A.M.Homes: Definitely worth ALL the hype. Highly recommended. She's definitely my new nerd crush. Be sure to read it this summer.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Ahmid: A fascinating novel about a Pakistani-American man torn between the history of two cultures. The book has some great ideas but somehow falls short of being great. Nonetheless, it’s an extremely thought-provoking post-9/11 novels that, even a month later, still has me thinking about it.
KANYE WEST, ON THE REWRITE TIP
Sometimes I like to think that somewhere in Kanye West's garbage can, there's a crumpled up Post-It note that says "Let's get glossed tonight. You can be my black Bob Ross tonight."
Does anyone besides me get that joke?
STIRRED, NOT SHAKEN
The Girlfriend and I have been living together for almost a year now. Since we both have joint custody of our children, this means that for 50% of our time, we have three children from two separate marriages living under one roof.
It's pure heaven and we don't take any of our happiness for granted. Luck and fate somehow conspired to bring us together. For that, we're eternally grateful.
When a single parent first swims into the uncharted waters of post-divorce dating, there is so much that can go wrong; the whole experience can be fraught with anxiety. Sure, maybe the occasional one-night fling or brief summer romance can help soften the blow but when the initial euphoria ends, you realize that finding a life-long partner is going to be infinitely harder than the last time you were single.
Even when you think you're ready for a serious relationship, you rarely are. The most important thing I tell anyone who gets divorced is to really take your time before jumping back into the dating scene. The dissolution of a marriage is a traumatic experience and you have to put the work into yourself before you're ready to be with another person. Patience is the key. Love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.
When the Boss Lady and I split up, I was forty years old with a four-year-old daughter. I had no idea what was in store for my future and my mind raced with a million questions.
Will I ever find someone who shares my perspective on life?
Does that woman even exist?
Will she mind that I have a kid?
Will she even like kids?
What if she wants one of her own?
What if she already has kids?
What if her kids hate me?
What if my kid hates her?
What if the kids hate each other?
The Girlfriend and I have been extremely lucky to find one another. I'll get into the trial and tribulations of forming a modern-day blended family in another post but, right now, I'll just say that things are going great.
The two of us have a very loving relationship, and it's important for us to show our kids what a healthy relationship looks like. We're firm believers that children live what they learn. But in a way, that's all besides the point. What makes all of it so much easier is the fact that our kids truly do love one another. They love like sisters. They fight like sisters. And they make up like sisters.
While the Peanut have may have had a bit of a tougher time acclimating from being an only child to a middle one, it's been a major adjustment for all of us. Yet despite the fact that so many things could have gone wrong, we couldn't be happier about how well things have worked out. Three girls under one roof can be intimidating but, at the end of the day, they care for each other. They love one another. And they're lucky to have one another. What more could two divorced parents ask for?
Spring Break 4 Eva, y'all!