Saturday, November 12, 2016

Baby Erik's Birth Story

I wanted to sit down and write the story about the day Mrs. Noisewater gave birth to Baby Erik because I thought it would be cool to have it all on record to look at years down the line. Two months have gone by, and I'm finally sitting down to write it. I figured out that I couldn't wait until I would have lots of time or when I'm not super tired because I NEVER have any time, and I'm ALWAYS super tired. So while he takes an hour nap right now, this is the time to write it all down. It's a long a long one so I understand if you skim through it.

Our doctor kept telling us every visit that the baby was basically ready to go because Mrs. Noisewater was dilating, and the baby's head was right there, knocking on the door. She told us just to come in on Thursday, September 8th and she could induce, even though the due date was on the 12th. We thought it would be a good idea to go out for dinner the night before the induction so that we would have a nice night out together, just the two of us, before the baby came. We had Tapas, so who knows which item it was because you sample so many with that type of cuisine, but something likely gave Mrs. Noisewater food poisoning. Bad idea eating anything risky around the time of labor. Now we know. Our appointment was around 8AM, but at 5AM Mrs. Noisewater was throwing up and had daihrrea. I called up the hospital, and they said to get her in right away so that they could get her on an IV so that she wouldn't get dehydrated. I was in a panic when I drove her into the hospital, but it was go time.

Here's my big homie at 2 months old.
It turns out all those stomach problems induced the labor on its own. Erik was due on the 11th, but he was coming out on the 8th one way or another. Things were very, very scary for quite a while because Mrs. Noisewater was still having to get up to go to the bathroom to throw up and go number two quite often, and even after multiple IV bags had pumped into her, the nurses were surprised that she wasn't more hydrated. We could see the heart rate of mommy and baby up on the screens, and both of them were too high. I was a nervous wreck watching those monitors and spoon feeding my wife ice chips. Mrs. Noiswater's body temperature and heart rate eventually came back down to normal levels, and so did baby's.

Our doctor is a really laid back cool hippy type of doctor. She makes you feel very relaxed when you're around her. I felt like I have known her all my life, and she seems like the kind of gal you just want to sit on a back porch with and drink wine all night and contemplate the universe. We had a baby birthing mix on, and when the doctor heard a Wilco song, she said, "Oh, I can't believe you have this Wilco song on here. I delivered both of Jeff Tweedy's kids." What!? How amazing is that?

This is us out for some tiny beers. We are starting to have lives again.
The doctor said, "Okay, dad. It's time for mom to start pushing. You'll be grabbing that leg and pushing her knee back towards her shoulders each time she pushes." What? I mean, I know it's not the old days where the men smoke cigars in the lobby, but I had no idea that the daddies got so hands on nowadays! Mrs. Noisewater was to push as much as she could for the duration of each contraction when the monitor said a contraction was coming (because we couldn't tell at all if she was having contractions because she an epidural. Get one of those by the way, everyone. It's the only way to have a baby). Mommy is really fit, so she was good at doing a stomach crunch/sit-up while the nurse and I pushed her legs up, and baby came out quite quick once she started pushing.

Once the head is out, the rest just slides right out because the shoulders can wiggle from side to side. I just remember seeing how long his torso was and how his legs just kept going and going as the doctor slid him out. A number of people said, "What a big boy!" He was 9 pounds and 20 and 1/2 inches long at birth. We didn't know going in if we were having a boy or a girl, and I remember looking at his beautiful little face, not even having taken a glance towards his genitals when the doctor announced, "It's a boy!" God damn. Everyone always says it's the best moment of your life, and it is. No doubt.

But then they said there was fluid in his lungs, and they had to rush him to the NICU to get that taken care of. I thought that would be a quick process, and they would bring him back. It turns out Erik stayed the night of the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th before finally going home the afternoon of the 12th (his actual due date). We would sleep in our room in the hospital, but every other minute we could, we were with little Erik in the NICU, holding his hand, rocking him, and feeding him. I remember the first time Mrs. Noisewater saw him with all those tubes hooked up to him, she started crying. I wanted to be strong for everyone, but when she cried I wanted to as well. Erik's breaths per minute were still a little high, so he had to get some assistance with his breathing for a while. Even when that finally came down, he still wasn't eating enough. They wanted him to reach a certain number of milliliters, and if he didn't get it all down, they shot it up his nose. This was just a sad process to see our little guy go through. It made me think of a force fed farm animal or something.

Remember how I said that his mommy saw him  in the NICU, and it made her cry? Well, when I put him in this Halloween costume and came out of the bedroom, she cried again - only from cuteness! 
We got an extra day to stay after the usual time allowed for new mothers because of Mrs. Noisewater's illness - they had to keep giving her antibiotics through an IV. Then that day ran out and they still didn't want to release Erik. So they found a little room on another wing that only had a single bed, but at least we could be in the same room with Erik and all the machines he was hooked up to. For that last night, Mrs. Noisewater stayed in the room with him in the single bed, and because there was no room for me, I drove home, slept for 4 hours, and came right back. It was unusual to have a baby of Erik's size in there because all of his neighbors in the NICU were very undersized. Any time I was getting too down about the situation, I would look around to some of the babies around him who couldn't have weighed more than 3 pounds, and their visitors could only stick their hands into the sides of the incubators when they would visit (they couldn't even hold their baby).

Erik's grandma was too scared to pick him up with all the tubes hooked up, but look how thrilled she was to hold him for the first time. This is one of the best pictures I've ever taken.
I'm not a real doctor, you may know by now, but I had to play the part of Dr. Hardass to get my boy sprung from the joint. The doctors only make the rounds once a day, and I essentially had to say, "Listen, can you get the doctor over here? Because our boy's levels are all good, right? He's just not breast feeding quite enough, but we are fine supplementing with formula. If the doctor isn't going to be coming by, we'll just be unhooking him and walking out of this joint." That worked. The doctor came by to clear him, and off we went.

My heart goes out to anyone who has complications with their babies. I vowed to become a better friend to anyone who is in that situation. I'll be johnny-on-the-spot with anything I can do for those families because it really is a stressful situation where you feel totally powerless and helpless when all you want to do is protect your new little person.

The night we got home, 9/11/2016, Kyle Hendricks of the Chicago Cubs had a perfect game going until the 9th inning. I was bummed he didn't finish that one out for Erik's first night, but then the Cubs won their first world series in over 100 years a couple months later in his first year of life, so that's still pretty damn awesome.

Go Cubs Go! This was his good luck onesie.
People ask me all the time what it's like to be a father, and what I tell them now is that I've never been so tired, but I've never been so happy. And it's hard to explain, but everything I do now is for a purpose. I had all this freedom before, but all that freedom afforded me time to sit around get worried about dumb shit. Now I'm just on the go and getting things done for my beautiful wife and cute little man, and I'm good at it. I don't always feel like I'm good at much, but it turns out I'm a good dad. So far. And I enjoy it. Being a dad is way more fun than I thought it would be. I absolutely love it.

By the looks of it, Erik seems to think I'm doing an okay job. Look at us in our matching sweatshirts! Thanks for reading, friends.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Fatherhood Has Changed Chicago Man, But He Still Won't Eat Camel Meat

My wife dropped me off at work today because she needed our car to take our baby boy to a doctor visit. I packed a lunch for myself and left it in the refrigerator. Isn't that the worst? This is even more of a problem than any other day because where I work on Mondays has nothing nearby to walk to for lunch options. For those of you not from the Chicago area, the neighborhood of Devon street near Damen Avenue has a milieu of cultures ranging from Nigerian, Pakistani, Indian, and you name it. I found a middle eastern restaurant, and I must admit it didn't look very clean and didn't smell too great either. I think I may have actually given it a shot, but then I saw a sign that was happily announcing "Camel meet on Fridays!" That actually scared me off, so snuck out and walked another few blocks to a McDonald's. My stomach was upset from the synthetic food, so I may have been better off with the camel meat.

Why not on Wednesdays? Hump Day!
My tummy was in knots as I worked my way back down Devon to get back to work in time when an elderly Caucasian gentleman walking in the opposite direction stopped to talk to me. Only he didn't appear to be speaking English. I listened hard to see if maybe it was just a thick accent and actually English. I told him, "I don't know the language you're trying to speak to me in." He said some things and I think I heard "Bosnian" in there somewhere. So I said, "Yeah, I don't speak Bosnian. Sorry." Maybe I just have a Bosnian look to me? Or maybe if he sees a white guy in the area, he just assumes Bosnian? Whatever the case, it's too bad I don't speak his language because he seemed very excited about the prospect of conversing with a fellow Bosnian buddy.

So, like I mentioned in paragraph one (if you're still reading), the wife and I have a baby boy now. When Mrs. Noisewater was very, very pregnant we went to a Chicago Cubs game together. She met me after work at a nearby bar and told me that some random drunk had just stopped her on the street and said, "That's a boy!" and pointed at her belly. I think people are going with the old wive's tale that if you carry your baby all up front and not in many other places, then that means it's a boy. So, we left the bar to head into the game and another random drunk homeless man said, "You' havin' a boy!" Well, the drunk homeless prophets were right; He's a boy, and he's beautiful.

They say it's good to talk and to sing to your babies, so he already has some go-to songs that we sing to him. One is "Beautiful Boy" by John Lennon. I think that is a song I would have thought was totally corny in my pre-daddy days, but now I absolutely love it.

The other song is "He's Misstra Know It All" by Stevie Wonder, only I sing "He's Mister Cutie Man." Yes. Mister Cutie Man. You read that correctly. I am no longer the least bit cool, and I fully accept this as fact and as a way of life.


Mr. Bloggie Man

Friday, September 16, 2016

I know it's been a while since I posted, but Mrs. Noisewater and I had a baby boy on September 8th. Erik is his name, and he is one hell of a cute son of a gun. The day he was born was an unbelievable day, and it's a tale I'd love to tell all of you. However, it's a long story that I don't have enough time blocked out for right now to relay to my beloved blog buddies at this moment. This little guy has been keeping us so busy that I saw this block of a couple of hours at midnight as my only chance to bang out a blog. Since it would have to be a short one, I figured I'd go for a laugh and tell you some funny stuff that's happened so far.

Let's just come right out and say it: Circumcision is a dated and crazy practice. The lady who performed the mutilation of my son's penis came by first to tell us that any benefits to the surgery (cleanliness or risk of STD's) are such a small percentage in either case that it's hardly even worth doing. I decided to go through with it for very stupid reasons such as: That's how mine is, I've heard women say that they have been freaked out when they have seen on the other way, and some of the ones I have seen look like those worms in "Dune."

Here's another thing, a nurse said that the tip-snipper lady would first have to come by to assess if my boy's ding-dong was big enough to do the surgery. This was one of the first times I found myself stepping in to stand up for my son. "Hey, it's plenty big enough," I said in his defense. "You just tell her to grab her best scalpel and come down here to surgically remove this young man's turtleneck!"

Hope no one is offended by my assessment because it's only an opinion. Plus I'm an idiot.
For those of you who don't know, seeing your son's freshly circumcised penis for the first time will scare the living daylights out of you. It's bright fire engine, red like when a dog has an erection and shows everyone his red rocket. There is some upkeep involved too. Every time you change his diaper for a week (which is many, many times int the first week), you have to put some ointment on a gauze pad and stick it to his sore ding-a-ling. If you don't, the poor little guy's sore penis will stick to the diaper. Ouch! I was telling a friend that it's a lot of pressure because I didn't want to screw up my boy's dick. That's a big deal. "That's a huge deal," my friend said emphatically in agreement.

No transition here other than funny baby genital stories, but I was assisting with weighing Erik at the doctor's office the other day. For some reason they plopped him down on a cold metal scale. He doesn't like being on his back much to begin with, but this ice cold hard surface upset him even more. He instantly screamed, and he put up such a fight that he didn't sit still even for even a split second to get an accurate reading. He then let loose with the only play he had. Erik sprayed a stream of pee in the upwards of three majestic feet that sprayed all over a nearby leather chair. I heard a loud splat as it  hit the back of the chair. He had some power behind this shot. I was cleaning it up as fast as I could and apologizing, but what I was really thinking was, "That's my boy!"

When the doctor came by to ask us some questions, one of them was if he is peeing enough. I said to her, "Did you see him out there by the scale? He damn near took the upholstery off one of your chairs with his power washing. He's plenty well hydrated. As a matter of fact, you should have a plaque in your waiting room commemorating that performance for longest distance in his age division. Next question." Just kidding. I didn't say of this, but I will say I was beaming with pride for the rest of the appointment. It won't be long before he is ready to pee in the trough at Wrigley Field. This is a very daunting task for any young man, but I think by 4 years of age he will be able to take a step back, put some arc on it, and deliver a perfect stream with laser point precision and not a drop hitting the floor.

I told you it's scary to saddle up there for a pee as a kid. This youngster is apparently intent on waiting for everyone else to leave before giving it a go.
Okay, I know these were baby genital stories and it's a little strange. But I do plan on delivering the heart-warming and more earnest tale of when Erik Noisewater first came into the world and changed my life forever. For now I just had time for these quick goofy stories while he is sleeping, but isn't this post more fitting for what this blog has been all about over the years? Thanks for reading, friends.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

These Are the Records That Were Spinning In My Neighborhood

I've been putting off blogging by watching all kinds of useless junk on the internet, such as this band that dresses up like Transformers and plays songs from "Transformers: The Movie," the animated movie from 1986. Aren't those costumes fantastic? But I can't help but feel sorry for the guy stuck portraying Spike, the earthling and friend of the Transformers. It's as if they ran out of money on the other elaborate costumes and just stuck him with a factory jumpsuit and a hard hat.

Tomorrow I'm going out to the suburbs for a record sale hosted some dude in his garage. He says that if you show him on your phone that you have shared the link to the add to someone else on Facebook, he will give you an ice cold Old Style tall boy. For my European readers (okay, reader, let's face it), Old Style is a cheap beer sold only in the midwest, and tall boy means a 16 ounce can. It seems this guy has way too many records and decided to take a couple days drinking beer in his garage and selling a bunch of vinyl. It's only a town or two over from my parents' place, I like beer, and I like records. How can I say no? The plan is to drop my very pregnant wife off at work and drive right out into the suburbs to thumb through stacks and stacks of vinyl while sipping on a cool one. What a great way to end the summer!

No idea who this guy is, but is he more proud of his lady or the beer?
Speaking of the very pregnant wife, it's now the 25th of August, and our due date is September 12th. We have the crib set up in the bedroom, and sometimes we will walk by it and say, "Hey, that's where baby sleeps!" Then we will be in the car and motion to the backseat where the carseat is hooked up and say, "That's where baby rides!" Just today I drove Mrs. Noisewater by the hospital on her way to way to work, and she said, "Hey, Ken. That's where baby is going to be born." It's obvious the first time we say those things, then it's just repetitive, and after a while it's hilarious to us. I think because we both can't believe we are having a baby in a matter of weeks, maybe days!

And then back to vinyl again: Today's actual blog topic involves listening to the records that were on the turntable when I was a kid and recording my impressions now and memories then. My mom and dad were actually not that big on rock music. Their collection consists of a lot more jazz and classical. However, there were a handful of rock records that they would play, and my sister and I would spin those select few over-and-over.

1. Fleetwood Mac, "Rumors."

As a little kid, I'll be honest, the first thing that excited me about the record was the cover because Mick Fleetwood had a pair of balls dangling from strings like a nut sack. Balls were funny then, and they still are. And I like how Stevie Nicks gazes in the general direction of his dangling crawdads with a look of utmost sincerity. Within the lyric sheet insert there are a series of photographs, and in one there is a guy smoking a joint. I remember hearing at school how terrible and illegal drugs were, so I thought that by pressing this album, the police could go to that guy's house and arrest him for drug use. Isn't it weird how brainwashed and confused little Kenneth Noisewater was from public education?

There were two simultaneous break ups going on within Fleetwood Mac at the time they made "Rumours." Bass player John McVie and his wife, keyboard player and singer Christie McVie, were going through a divorce. Christie was seeing a new guy, and she wrote a song about her rejuvenated faith in love called "You Make Loving Fun." John had to play bass on a song about his wife being all excited about fucking someone new! This fueled his already heavy drinking. John would be one of the first guys into the studio to record his parts, and he would often be the first one done because he would pass out.

Lindsay Buckingham, singer and guitarist, was also splitting up with his girlfriend, singer and hippy-chick poet all-star, Stevie Nicks. Stevie was taking it really hard and wrote an amazing song called "Dreams" all about it. Not to be outdone, Lindsey wrote one too called "Go Your Own Way." So, four of the five members were having break-ups with each other, and that left drummer, Mick Fleetwood, who was in the midst of a failing marriage with his wife. The pain and heartache all five members were experiencing at the time could have spelt disaster, but it was instead channeled into a catharsis that became one of the best albums in rock history; certainly the best break up album. In fact, all five members are given writing credit for an extremely moving piece of music called "The Chain." That's one of those songs that even as a 7-year-old kid, nowhere near dating any chicks or having any breakups of my own, I knew that song was somehow important. It was just majestic.

2. My sister and I probably played Three Dog Night the most. I remember big sister and her friend made a dance routine to "One," of all songs, and would play it over-and-over again to rehearse their steps. My parents still talk about a trip we took to Pittsburgh where us two and the kids of our family friends were spontaneously singing "Joy To the World" during any downtime. I didn't know at the time, but Three Dog Night was a cover band. I loved "Try a Little Tenderness" as a youngster and had no idea that Otis Redding did it first. "Celebrate," and "Old Fashioned Love Song" we also liked. We thought "Eli's Coming" was about some sort of bad boogie man type coming to get everyone. Then up until recently I thought it was a song warning people against a cock block buddy of his. Allow me to explain.

What he's really saying:

"Eli's coming, hide your heart girl."

What I thought he was saying:

"Eli's coming, hide your hot girl."

Not at all about a cock block. My apologies. 

3. My mom and dad had only one Rolling Stones album called "Gimme Shelter." One side, to my recollection, were recorded versions of "Gimme Shelter," "Jumpin' Jack Flash," "Street Fighting Man," "Honkey Tonk Woman," and "Love In Vain." The other side was a collection of live songs, the only which I know for sure were "Satisfaction" and "Under My Thumb." My sister and I rarely gave that side a spin.

What I do remember is feeling so sad when I heard "Love In Vain." It's a Robert Johnson cover. He is the blues legend from the 1930's who was rumored to have sold his soul in exchange for a brief and wondrous career that would prove to be extraordinarily influential to blues and later rock music. There is only that one session of recordings and that one picture that we always see of the man. In any event, it wasn't just Jagger's pained vocals that struck a chord, so to speak, with me. Mick Taylor's slide guitar was wailing away in anguish in a way 7-year-old Ken just didn't hear on the 1980's radio stations that were playing Kajagoogoo around that time.

My parents threw out all their records some time in the early 2000's, but I have since tracked down my own copies of some of them. However, I don't have that same Stones record. What I have is "Let It Bleed," largely because of that "Love In Vain" cover is one there. In a case of tragic music-lover irony, the only song on either side that skips is none other than "Love In Vain."

It's all the more a sad song to hear Mick keeps saying

"I followed her to the station . . . With a suitcase in my hand (hic), in my hand (hic), in my hand (hic), in my hand (hic) . . ."

Monday, August 08, 2016

Where the Sidewalk Ends: Beware of Ditches and Horny Weirdos

My dad was out for a walk around the neighborhood the other day on the street due to the fact that there was no sidewalk during that stretch. Suddenly he sees a woman dash out onto the street to stop him.  He thought there might be some kind of emergency, but instead she says, "Have you found Jesus?" This was not the kind of conversation Kenneth Sr. wanted to be involved in during his morning walk, but like his son, he is really nice to weirdos who want to talk to him and has a hard time getting out of those situations.

She told him that she was an alcoholic for a number of years and is lucky to be alive, and that the only way she ever got clean and sober was to find Jesus. She said that one time she was so drunk that she fell in a ditch. She then pointed out the very ditch that she fell into. I suggested that one way out of that situation would be that the two of them could go get a closer look at the ditch, Kenneth Sr. could shove her in said ditch, and run like hell. I'm sure he considered it as she went on-and-on, especially when she said, "You have such nice curly hair. Would you like to come inside for a cup of coffee?" I laughed my ass off when I heard this. The seamless segue from the curly hair to invite inside could only mean that she has given up "the sauce," but she has not given up her other vice: flagging down strange men on the street and doing sex to them.

The situation was getting very strange to say the least, but he was saved when crazy lady saw the streets and sanitation man approaching and said, "Oooh, he is a recovering alcoholic like me. I have to go talk to him." That was Kenneth Sr.'s cue: He ran like hell. He has not been able to run properly lately for years due getting older and nagging injuries. However, on this day he ran faster than he did in those track meets in high school he was always telling my sister and I about.

Kenneth Sr. now takes a slightly different route on his walks. Here is the usual route he had been doing for years now.

And pictured below is the route he now takes every morning.

What do you think, friends? Anyone have any weirdos in their neighborhood or anywhere else that you find yourself avoiding?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Time Traveling Concert Goers Serve Their Own Selfish Rock Purposes

I had a dream last night where my good friend, HLP*, and I were transported back to various times in history. What an amazing opportunity! We could have saved the Kennedy brothers from being assassinated, stopped the world wars that cost the world so many lives, and maybe even smacked the AIDS monkey in the head with a crowbar.** But instead the first thing that occurred to us that we could do for the good of mankind went something like this, "Holy shit! We can travel through time seeing all kinds of legendary rock bands!"

HLP and I were discussing what shows we had been to during out time travels. One of us saw Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne in the 1970's, and on another night in the 1970's we saw Blue Oyster Cult. Seeing B.O.C. is not that exciting of an opportunity, but that is all we could find playing that night. And they didn't even play "Don't Fear the Reaper!" Now that I think about it, HLP and I could have been yelling out for them to play that song when it hadn't even been written yet. Trippy, right?

We found our potential Holy Grail when we skimmed through the newspaper to to see that Jimi Hendrix was playing that night! This must be what the Ziggy of our rock and roll "Quantum Leap" has been wanting us to see. It was all so clear now! The only problem was that it was sold out. First we tried to sneak through the front door, but the doorman busted us and kicked us to the curb. We then found a way to get in through the back door. This led us to the backstage area, but from there there was no way to get to where we could see the stage. We decided to hide behind some folding tables where we could hear the show perfectly and see Jimi playing from time to time when he walked by a door with a window on it. 

At one point Jimi happened to glance through the window and looked right at me. I didn't know what else to do, so I just smiled and waved. Mr. Hendrix stopped playing at this point and said, "Hold on a minute. We got a couple white boys*** back here." I thought for sure our goose (or geese) was cooked, but he asked the crowd if we should be let into the show. The crowd responded with an uproarious applause, and we came out and saluted the crowd to a standing ovation. HLP and I found some seats, but people kept arriving and kicking us out (we had no tickets, if you'll recall). Some seats that I sat in I had to leave even before anyone got there because my knees were hitting the head of the person in front of me. I found it odd at the time that some seats had more leg room than others, but maybe it was like that in the early 1970's. I'll never know because I can't really time travel.

Sometimes you just find that perfect Google Image.
With all the time I spent worrying if I would be thrown out, if a ticket-holding patron would arrive to take my seat, or if my knees would graze somebody's ear and piss them off, I realized that I wasn't paying much attention to why I was there: Jimi. Fucking. Hendrix. I will say that dream-time-traveling Kenneth was impressed with his playing, but Jimi didn't play one single, solitary song I had ever heard before.  

So, what does it all mean? Are the rock gods inside my insane brain trying to tell me something?
- Maybe I should just enjoy the moment more and not worry so much about little details?
- Perhaps it's a telling story about how I'm too overly concerned with rock music?
- Help me out, Seven Readers. Maybe there is a hidden meaning that I'm missing?

*This acronym stands for Heterosexual Life Partner. He has been a good buddy of mine since junior high, all through this blog's inception, and right up until now. We text one another just about every day about sports and music, so I would say life partner still applies.

**I'm sorry if any animal lovers are offended by this. Believe me when I say that it wouldn't be easy because I find monkeys so adorable. But I would hypothetically smash that little guy's infected nose right into the back of his disease-ridden skull for the good of mankind. But he would get a pass if Zeppelin or someone else awesome was playing that night.

***We weren't the least bit offended when he said "white boys" because he delivered it with no malice at all, and in fact, a great deal of warmth. Dream Jimi was extremely kind and gracious. He was everything I imagined him to be, but I just wish he played some songs that I knew! I mean, I have heard his whole catalog, so from what reservoir was he digging through for that night's deep cuts? I'll have to ask Dream Jimi if I ever have the pleasure of meeting him again, and while I'm at it I'll thank him for letting me and my "white boy" friend into the show.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The other day just about the only thing I had to do for the entire day was put a baby crib together. How long could that really take? Well, little did you know I got a C- in Industrial Arts in Junior High, and I suck at this sort of thing. If there is anything that could have been done wrong, I did it wrong. Two different times I figured out way too late that I had put something on backwards and had to take apart just about everything to get it put on right. Believe it or not, I woke up all sore the next day from sitting on the floor in awkward positions screwing screws into stubborn bolts. 

This was my first real dad task, and I'm not going to say it was a complete failure. Sure, there were a lot of bumps in the road and a lot of swearing, but I stuck with it and got it done. I think it was a metaphor for what parenting is going to be like from what I hear from my friends: You have to figure it out as you go, you're going to suck at it at times, but you just stick with it and stay positive. And they'll be lots of extra parts. Okay, that makes no sense. I suck at carpentry and metaphors. 

I ran the Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon last weekend. I have figured out that halves are plenty for me. No more full ones because those destroy perfectly good bodies. My good buddy, Night Train, and I run around 10 miles once every weekend, and it's been great for keeping weight off and gives us time to recover. Also, that way you don't get sick of running when it's just once a week. The race went really well for us, and they had live music along the way. They also had rock impersonators, and I tested the Blues Brothers guys and said to them as I ran by "Orange whip . . . Orange whip . . .," I was very pleased and impressed that they both responded with "Three orange whips!" and did the proper hand motion. The Elvis impersonator looked very hot, sweaty, and hungover, so I didn't engage him with any fun pop quizzes. He looked busy concentrating on not throwing up on himself. 

Hot yoga has been a great way for me to recover from running way too far and taking entirely too long to assemble things with seemingly simple instructions. Usually I'm just about the worst yogi (that's what they call yoga participants) in the class, and that's fine. You have to be willing to be the suckiest guy in the room before you can get better at anything. I'll tell you right now that I'm in decent shape but can't touch my toes. Not even close. Slowly I'm getting more flexible, and I always leave feeling refreshed and thinking with a clear head. However, yesterday right when the class ended, some country music kicked in and continued for at least four songs while I was in the locker room. I would prefer they play any innocuous new age wind chime music music that just blends into the background. That's fine and expected. But, I can't relax when I'm listening to a song about some guys drinking a six pack of beer in the back of a pick-up truck. Unless I'm right there in the back of that truck with them. Country makes me angry, and I can't tune that crap out. 

Always good to have a spotter
When I was in high school I left my alarm clock-radio alarm (I'm old) on the other end of the room and had it set on the country station. That way I knew I wouldn't lie in bed and listen to the music because I knew I would have to run across the room to turn it off or slowly lose my mind. So, it's been a long history of hating country music. I was thinking of leaving a complaint with the yoga studio, but I'll just complain to you guys instead because that's what I've always done.

So running, volleyball, and yoga have been about it as far as exercise goes lately, and I have been losing some muscle tone. I have been avoiding doing any kind of weight training due to an elbow problem, but today the elbow felt pretty good so I pumped some (really light-weight) iron. You know that debate kids have on the playground where they say "My dad could beat up your dad?" Well, what I don't want is some kid saying that to Kenny Jr. and poor Kenny is left saying, "You're probably right. My dad has pipe cleaner arms and can't even screw together simple wooden structures with directions that even a chimp can follow. He's hardly a man at all, but he can do a downward facing dog in his hot yoga class that will make your head spin!" That won't score him any points at all out there on that playground. 

No segue at all here, but I was at work not too long ago, and a coworker said, "Kenneth, I saw on Facebook that we have a mutual friend." She said the friend's name, and the name meant nothing to me. I looked it up, and it is a blog buddy. She was saying what a great dude he is, and it made me happy to hear that. I said he is an excellent writer, and she said that he helped everyone write their term papers in college. This pleased me too for some reason. I was proud of this dude I have never met. Then I had to explain to this coworker that I had never met him, and I'm a grown-ass man with pen pals. 

One blog buddy I have met is SO@24, and I was reminded recently of the time we first met in L.A., and for reasons I can't remember, we recreated the suggestive cover art from Hall and Oates' 1982 release, "H20." I thought of this because I went to an outdoor Hall & Oates show last night on a very hot and humid Chicago night with my sister, her boyfriend, and my very pregnant and sweaty wife. Believe it or not, we were actually just as sweaty as Daryl Hall and John Oates were in the picture! 

(Hall & Oates)

(Dr. Ken and SO@24. We should have got sweatier or just spritzed water on our faces. It will always be one of my biggest regrets.)

There has been no real rhyme or reason to where this post has been headed, and I'll just end it here. Go ahead and leave a comment related to any of the scatter shot of topics I have run down in this rambling stream of consciousness, or just say hello to your insane pen pal buddy from Chicago. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to admire the glorious crib that big daddy built with his own. bare. hands!