Sunday, February 19, 2017

I got a text the other morning that a friend and coworker of mine, Cesar, was mugged. There are two types of muggings.

1. The one where you hand over all your belongings and no one gets hurt.
2. The horrific and traumatizing kind.

My friend had a Number Two, and it was the worst I have ever heard of.

Every Sunday morning Cesar likes to wake up early and walk over to the coffee shop to catch up on work. You know, doing what he is supposed to do as a functional and productive member of society. This is when he sees a car with four young men (who contribute crime and awfulness to society) do a u-turn, and he thinks nothing of it. Evidently they did a u-turn to rob him because moments later three men sneak up from behind and are all over Cesar. One shoves him into a fence, and the other two dig into all of his pockets, taking his phone, keys, credit card, and a bus card. Conceal and carrying a firearm would have done him no good with how fast these guys got into all available pockets, and then the likelihood of him getting shot would have went up - plus there would be another gun on the street.

Cesar yelled out "help" as loud as he could, and this is when two of the men punched him in the face, breaking his jaw. They asked for the code to unlock his phone, and he gave it to them. Between the three men, they could not remember it. The one guy still in the car yelled out that it was taking to long and to just "pop him." One of the men on foot then showed Cesar a gun. The guy in the car then leaned over to get something out of the glove box (likely another gun) but banged his head on something and was screaming, swearing, and bitching about how much it hurt. Between the head bumping and the guys not being able to memorize four simple numbers, it is likely these guys were strung out drug addicts. When the other three turned to check on their partner in the car, Cesar made a break for it. The three pursued him on foot, and the guy in the car zipped ahead of Cesar and pulled through an entrance to an alley to block the sidewalk in front of him. Much to the driver's surprise, Cesar leaped over the hood of the car like God damned "Night Rider!"

Walking in the opposite direction, completely oblivious to all the hollering, commotion, and crimes happening around due to being engrossed with his phone and ear buds playing loud music, was an Asian-American out for a stroll. Cesar was running towards this citizen and yelling to get his attention to no avail. So as he is running past he snatches the ear buds out of the man's ears and yells, "You're walking straight towards criminals, and they're trying to kill me!" Now Asian-American guy is turning and running in the same direction as Cesar, and the two of them ran into a local 7-11. They frantically asked the guy working there to lock the doors because the hooligans were close behind and headed towards the store, but the guy working there did not seem to believe them.

The bad guy driver actually pulled into the parking lot, but as it turns out the headlights made it impossible for the camera to see the driver, make out a license plate, or even tell the make of the car. The criminals must have known that they would be seen on cameras if they went into the 7-11, so they did not enter the store. It's a good thing the Asian-American fellow stayed for when the police came because the policeman had no idea how to track a stolen iPhone. I think the policeman should have known how to do that, but that is not the focus of this blog entry.

Cesar had to have a three hour surgery on his jaw with only local anesthetic, so he was awake for the entire uncomfortable three hours. He then had his jaw wired shut, and it will remain wired shut for six to eight weeks. The only things he can eat are liquids that can fit through his teeth. The doctor said he will likely lose around fifteen pounds, and Cesar is a thin guy to begin with. He is also traumatized, and any time it starts getting dark out, if he sees a black car, or if he sees a car do a u-turn, he begins to panic and relive the event.

Cesar's situation was one of those times where I felt so terrible for someone that I felt like I had to do something. The first thing I did was organize a Tuesday Juice Day where myself and two other coworkers switch off who is buying smoothies (one of the only things he can "eat") that morning and hang out with Cesar before work. The first Juice Day we got together is when he told us all the details about the robbery. I think it just helps him to talk to people about what has been going on with him. Two ladies who recently retired volunteered to drive him to all of his doctor appointments because Cesar does not have a car and they have the time. How nice of those ladies, right?

The second thing I am doing is on a more city-wide scale. Like me, Cesar is a jogger, and I have been coming up with a plan for a Joggers Neighborhood Watch (still looking into a clever name, so chime in with one if you have any good ones). I figure joggers could be out on patrol in those early morning hours where the criminals often strike, and we are often hyper alert when we are running. What I am envisioning is a Google Drive spreadsheet for each neighborhood where folks can fill out a calendar for what time of day they will be with a group of people on a jog (preferably groups of at least two, and even better if three or four). My hope is that as it gains popularity, folks will agree to choose that 4AM block of time if they log on late and it is one of the last slots, especially if we have an incentive program at the end of a week (like a pizza party with lots of beer) if we fill all the time slots. Joggers can check another box saying how many are in their group, what materials they have with them (whistle, pepper spray, phones, etc), and any suspicious activity they saw. My hope is that more presence out there can reduce crimes like the one that so badly impacted my friend.

If you have any other ideas I can add to this plan, please let me know in the comments. If you want to outright steal my idea, go right ahead. I'm not making any money on this, and you will be making the world safer, which is my goal anyway.

Be safe out there, friends. Don't look at your phone all the damn time when you're walking around. Be alert and aware of your surroundings. Your safety is more important than Facebook updates or Candy Crush. Ubers are everywhere, so take advantage of this and go door-to-door in a car when it is late at night or early in the morning. And if you have to walk alone late at night, do so with a friend.  

Okay, blog buddies. Thanks for listening/reading. See you next time . . .

Sunday, February 12, 2017

I saw my good friend, Oates, at a Super Bowl party. It had been a long time since I had seen him. He is that guy who gets a girlfriend and then completely disappears, and he has demonstrated that it is a consistent pattern in all three of the committed relationships I have seen him in. Also, he typically likes mean and nasty princess bitch types. You see, Oates can be a little vain. He dresses very nicely, his hair is always styled perfectly with every hair right in place, and he expects the same from the women he chooses. Oates is a great guy, but the problem is, those types of women are sometimes terrible people. When he has one of those girlfriends in his life, he never brings them out around us, and in the rare cases when he does, he acts completely different - not himself.

But on Super Bowl Sunday the one he has been seeing is there, she is a great-looking gal, and she could not be nicer. And Oates was completely acting like good-old-Oates, being himself. There were a lot of babies crawling around the joint, and one of his former ladies would not agree to commit to a baby party. Probably partly out of fear of getting spit-up on her posh clothing (I wanted to use a name brand here, but I have no idea what is nice these days). Oates' lady could not get enough babies, as a matter of fact. She must have held four or five babies through the course of the four quarters, Lady Gaga's bungee jumping halftime performance, and the overtime.

The party was over at my buddy Haircut's place, and Haircut's son who just turned three was examining his foxy patient (Oates' Lady), checking her heart beat (but maybe more to check her boobies?), giving her shots and laughing hysterically, and trying to amputate her toes with a pair of scissors. Haircut said that his boy actually likes the company of pretty ladies. He is no dummy.

At one point I am walking around holding my guy, Baby Erik, sipping my Zombie Dust (that's a beer) and dipping things into crab dip with my spare hand, and I notice Oates' female companion smiling and staring at me. I walked over to the fridge to get a fresh beer, popped it open, looked up, and there she was again gawking at me with that smile. "Dang, Dr. Ken," I thought, "You still got it, you old dog, you." Must have been my new jeans, or maybe those long jogs or all those laps I swam had really payed off. Then it dawned on me that it was what I was holding that was the object of her affection. Baby Erik had charmed another one. I asked Oates' lady if she wanted to hold him, and she jumped off the couch as if she had been waiting forever for me to ask. Waiting for me to catch on that Erik is the cute one.

"Hey, girl. You staring at that line in my fat wrist?"
This kid is quite the charmer, I must say. And Doctor Kenneth and Doctor Haircut's Son both say so.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Roll Call

Okay, let's get after a blog in the moments this kid takes a nap.

So a package arrived recently that was covered in Chinese writing, and the only English on there was my address and my son's name. As I opened the package I noticed that it was expanding. A giant plush stuffed elephant was mashed in there! Erik seemed to really like it, but first I had to spray it down to remove any SARS or bird flu.



There was no note inside, and my attempts to post a picture of it on Facebook did not yield any results as to who sent the unusual gift. I believe there were close to 100 comments and "likes," so that's 100 suspects eliminated. I figure if I ask the countless readers of this blog for some resolution, that's another . . . seven suspects I can cross off the list. I'm faced with the sad realization that the mystery of the adorable stuffed elephant has been moved into the cold case files and may never be solved.

You know those parents that post a million pictures a day of their kid? Well, we post a lot of them, but we are not under the impression that he is the cutest kid of all time in every single picture. Take this one that Mrs. Noisewater took of him at the doctor's office a while back, for example.



This morning we had Baby Erik in bed with us, and Mrs. Noisewater was doing roll calls. Remember that?

Sha-Booya! Sha-Sha-Sha-Booya Roll call!
His name is Erk (Yeah!)
And he's super cute (Yeah!)
Sometimes he fart (Yeah!)
And sometimes he poot (Roll call!)



But then I tried to do one about Mrs. Noiswater bringing back pastries from the bakery when she got back from the gym.

Sha-Booya! Sha-Sha-Sha-Booya Roll call!
Her name is Mommy (Yeah!)
She brings daddy a danish (Yeah!)
She didn't like "The Phantom" (Yeah!)
Said it's too Billy Zane-ish (Roll Call!)


Mrs. Noisewater and I are going out for a "romantical" night at a fancy-pants restaurant and overnight at a hotel downtown. It will be the first night the two of us have been away from our boy overnight. My first drink (and let's be honest, my first time going number 2) without worrying about a baby waking up will be for you, my beloved Seven Readers.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Jibber Jabberer At the Gym and a Totally Unrelated Funny Story

I was at the gym today on the treadmill, and there was a woman next to me talking to someone on the phone while she was working out. Now, this is okay if:

Q: 1. Was it an important call or a business call?

A: Almost certainly not because she was laughing loudly and all the content of the conversation that I overheard was completely meaningless.

Q: Did she at least keep her voice down?

A: Absolutely not. I would have been fine if I had my headphones, but even then the big belly laughs would cut right through the heavy-ass jams I would likely have been playing. Probably something obscure and rocking, like this, a stoner rock band out of Portugal called Sulfer Giant with endless infectious Sabbathesque riffs.



At some point in my frustration at having only the bad gym music and no sports to watch on the television (just the closed captions of guys talking about football) and forced to listen to this lady jabber on, I started getting perhaps a little too critical of her. Now, I really don't like to judge people at the gym for whatever workouts they're doing because who gives a care, right? I know that one time a giant Thor-looking dude, like that blond schmuck from the Packers (sorry, I'm a Bears fan) tapped me on the shoulder (interrupting my beloved rock music for God's sake) to tell me that I was doing an exercise with poor form or something. I know that made me mad, so why am I judging this woman?

(You won't get gains doing it your way, bro. Also, you'll get more volume in your hair if you switch to my dope shampoo. Bro.)
At least she made it into the gym, I tried to tell myself. Perhaps she really hates working out but loves catching up with her homegirl, so she rewards herself with that - and that's what keeps her going to the gym. Maybe that is the case, but couldn't she do that on the ride there or the ride home? And couldn't she at least keep her voice down a little? And here comes me perhaps being a jerk. She was walking the whole time. If you're able to carry friendly banter like that, are you really working hard enough? And keeping her hands on the railing the whole time is really cheating herself.

Well, am I complete gym-bro ass wipe for letting this lady bother me that much?

Hey, here is something totally unrelated. My buddy, Night Train, and I were at a bar the other night, and we ran into one of his old roommates, this great-looking super buff gay guy. We got talking about how this guy dogged out fellas like a lot of men do with women. He would have all different types of guys that he would take home, and more than once he would have a fella come over when he was gone and they would just hang out with us and wait for Buff Roommate to come home. Night Train said one morning he saw one of the hottest women he had ever seen in his life come out of Buff Roommate's bedroom. He told Nigh Train that he mixes up once or twice a year and throws a woman into the mix. Night Train said to me, "God damn this guy! I'm in a slump right now, and he can easily pull the hottest girl out of the bar whenever he wants, and he is gay!?" Oh my God did we ever have a laugh at that one.

Hey, I got to run. Mrs. Noisewater has my 40th birthday celebration planned for me that I have to get ready for, and I have no idea what activities we are doing. Perhaps it will be a blog worthy tale I can share soon. Be well, friends.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Dr. Ken Turns 40

Well, it's my 40th birthday today, so I figured I might as well do a blog post. I have the day off of work, and I'm spending it with my 4-month-old little buddy, Erik. The only thing I had to get done today was drive out to Toys R Us and Carter's to return some of Baby Erik's Christmas stuff. I don't know a lot about parenting, but here is a good tip: Don't buy anything for babies that has buttons all the way up and down. The very idea that people are still making, buying, and selling button-up and snap-up baby clothes when the zipper is 10 times faster is astounding.

Speed is of the utmost importance when you're changing 30 diapers a day. Snapping one-by-one with a baby crying and squirming all over the place . . . Why would you put yourself through that? So, yeah, the button-up jammies had to be returned. Instead I got him some of those sweet sweatpants that look like jeans. Mrs. Noisewater was saying she is okay with all of his sweatpants, but daddy insisted that the boy have some jeans when he is out in public (or at least give the outward appearance of jeans). My boy is no everyday sweatpants fella, and I intend on being sure of it. I dig those jeans/sweats so much that I spent the extra 8 bucks to get one that is one size bigger that he can wear when he outgrow the first pair. I considered buying a pair for myself because I like comfort as much as the next guy.

Okay, as it turns out you all haven't been missing much by me not blogging anymore as evidenced by these topics. But I have decided that I need to try to write more. My good friend's father just died, and every time I think about my own mortality I immediately think that one of my biggest regrets would be not writing more. Weird, right? Well, have no fear. When I'm dead and gone there will be brilliant pieces of work out here on the inter-webs about my son's magical jeans that have the comfort of sweatpants.

I know it's wrong, but I watch some television with my infant. What? The horror! Well, when you have kids, you tell me if you can do doctor recommended play crap all day long. Believe me, it's nice when daddy wants to watch the Bulls and he will sit next to me with that beautiful blank stare of his into the glowing beautiful light. So the other day Erik and I were watching Robotech. Anyone ever watch that as a kid? I know a couple of you are right around my age, but to be honest, a lot of friends who I talk to don't remember it. It's a Japanimation cartoon from the 80's about a time in the future where an alien spaceship crashes into earth, and humans use the technology to develop their own weapons (such as jets that transform into robots), and then years later the aliens come down to earth to retrieve the spaceship and kick ass and stuff. There are some love stories going on and some major characters dying, which was really heavy when you were a kid. Here's a clip of Robotech below.



Another thing going on is that my mother-in-law is flying in from the San Francisco area to stay with us for 3 months to help watch Baby Erik while Mrs. Noisewater and I are at work. It's a small apartment for the four of us, but it will be really great to have her here. She grew up in Japan. I wonder if she will watch Robotech with me . . .

Tonight Mrs. Noisewater and I are making pizzas and maybe having a beer or two for my birthday evening. We don't go out as much anymore, but we really don't miss it that much. It's a more simple life, and our little guy brings us a lot of joy. Like the other day my son is on the couch with me and I got a hold of his ankles, making his feet clap like a pair of hands, doing stuff that dads do when they run out of shit to do. I thought I smelled some poop, and just as I move my nose right up to his little butt, he cuts loose with a whopper fart. Expert timing. I laughed my ass off. He just kept farting.

See you next time, friends.

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.



Sincerly,

Mr. Bloggie Man