Monthly Archives: October 2010

Who Are These People?

I love pictures.

If you’re anything like me and my wife, you have pictures everywhere. Hanging on walls, resting on bookcases, stored on the computer and even collecting dust in the basement. You remember, when people actually used to have film developed?

Anyway…

I’ve found that, especially after you have kids, life tends to morph into a bullet train that rockets by so fast you can barely keep up. I was walking down my hallway yesterday when a precocious toddler buzzed by me and caused me to trip. I temporarily lost my footing and hit the wall, which nearly knocked down a fairly large picture frame. As I steadied it and realigned it on the wall, I realized I hadn’t looked at them in quite some time.

I stared in amazement at the two happy people looking back at me with joy in their eyes. The picture was taken years ago in a different time. The faces I saw were younger, less worn down and flush with eagerness and anticipation. A young couple on the verge of life. She was dressed in a beautiful white gown looking ever the bride, with her arms wrapped around his shoulders. He was looking dapper in his tux, soaking in the moment and wondering how the hell he got such a gorgeous girl to marry him.

The moment was captured perfectly and conveyed a truly magical moment. And as I looked at it, I couldn’t help but wonder…

WHO THE HELL ARE THESE PEOPLE?

No really, I don’t know who they are. The frame actually holds four pictures. Three of them are from our wedding. Me rubbing MJ’s feet, the two of us at the altar and MJ and I posing together with our rings. But the fourth picture? Strangers. They literally came with the frame. Don’t get me wrong, they’re beautiful strangers. She’s gorgeous and he’s who I’d look like if I was 70 lbs lighter and my hairline wasn’t retreating faster than the French in wartime. But the fact remains, we have photo models hanging out where our wedding picture should be.

Then, when I walked into Will’s room, it was deja vu all over again.

You have to understand, I love Will’s room. I decorated it and worked on it myself. I put in all new baseboards, put up a chair rail around the room, painted it and even stenciled stars and moons all along the top of the room. I also put a couple of shelves in there too. I know that sounds ridiculously easy, but not for me. I’m not a handyman. I’m impressed with myself if I can take an electrical cover outlet off correctly. So when I finished that work in Will’s room it was like I had just built a damn house.

But when I looked at the two shelves above his bed I had to laugh.

We decorated his room with bumblebees. I don’t remember why. So on one shelf was the cute little bumblebee clock. It has been there for more than 2.5 years. And not once during that time has it worked, mainly because I never put the batteries in there.

On the other shelf sits a bumblebee picture frame. Inside that frame is the cutest baby picture you’ll ever see. The only problem is it’s not Will. With the best of intentions, we put that frame up there before Will was born and figured we’d take a picture of him and stick it in there. Well, 2.5 years later we still have someone else’s child peering down at us every night as we put our son to bed.

Parents of the Year right?

I thought about developing more pictures and placing them in the frame, but to be honest that smacks of effort. Besides, how fun will it be to make new friends or have people over to our house for the first time, and watch their confusion as they try to figure out who the hell the random people are in all of these family pictures? Or maybe I’ll name the couple and the baby and give them cool and interesting back stories.

Or I could just get off my lazy ass and print out a picture. But what fun is that?

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Gone Viral

The last 48 hours have been nothing short of mind-blowing.

I posted a recap of Alexandra’s story on the Good Men Project site on Saturday. By Monday morning, it exploded all over the Internet. It landed on Salon, Jezebel, BoingBoing, Rachel Maddow’s blog and Slate to name a few. The You Tube video of my confrontation with the protesters is currently around 370,000 hits. And my amazement and incredulity at how many people have taken an interest in our story is clear off the charts.

First of all, in perusing all the chatter about our story I’ve noticed a few people making misstatements and others have had questions. So here goes:

  • This video is not made up. Our lost baby was not made up. The pain we felt from losing a child is not made up. All of it is real. Very, very real. Anyone who would fake this kind of thing is the lowest form of life, and I’m certainly not in that category.
  • I am not just doing this for the money. In fact, I’m not making ANY money off of this. Look around this site. Do you see any advertising? No. Sure my blog is getting more hits but that doesn’t translate into dollars for me. I’m set to make a few media appearances in the next couple of days, and none of them are paid. I’m just happy our story has jump-started the discussion.
  • The protesters. There is a 35-foot buffer zone in Massachusetts by law, and these protesters were obeying it at the time. So while we didn’t have to pass right next to them, they were across the street shouting things at us. So while I never felt physically threatened by any of them, it was their incredibly cruel words I was protesting. And yes, even though I didn’t get it on tape, they absolutely shouted things at us at we entered the clinic.

Now, having addressed these issues from the haters out there, I want to take this opportunity to thank the overwhelming majority of you who embraced me and enveloped me with so much unmitigated love and support it made my head spin. The thousands of e-mails, comments and tweets you’ve left me have restored my faith in, well, everything.

From the 20-year-old college student who had to navigate protesters by herself last week to the woman who is now a grandmother but still recalls the horror of having to deal with anti-choice zealots decades ago, your stories were intensely personal. And the fact that you shared them with me means more than you’ll ever know.

But I have to admit, it’s all made me pretty uncomfortable.

MJ wants to kill me because I cannot take a compliment and I certainly won’t admit I’ve done anything extraordinary.  So when people started using the word “hero” to describe me I freaked out a little. Soldiers are heroes. Teachers are heroes. Firefighters, police officers and doctors are heroes. Me? I’m an overweight knucklehead who could barely operate the camera on his cell phone after getting pissed off at a couple of ignorant old ladies for yelling at his wife.

And honestly, I didn’t really have a benevolent agenda. I wasn’t thinking about the greater good when I shot that video. I was being selfish, because it felt good to fight back against ignorance and shame the people who tried to shame my wife on the worst day of her life. My two goals were 1) Showcase their stupidity and 2) Not get arrested. I can say with 100% certainty that “Make a passionate but nonviolent argument in favor of women’s reproductive rights and basic human decency that will be viewed by nearly half a million people on You Tube” was not in my brain.

But my wife — who is much smarter than I will ever be — told me that whether it was inadvertent or not, I had done something worthwhile. Something unique. Something most people don’t talk about. And she told me it would resonate with people, especially those who have been negatively affected by similar protesters in similar situations.

I still maintain I’ve done nothing special. But I hope, at the very least, I’ve started a discussion. I hope a few people think about standing up to these people in nonviolent ways. I hope a few of the protesters conceivably take a look at what they’re doing and at least tone down the rhetoric. And while I understand the minds of ultra-religious fanatics are so set in their respective dogmas that they might not ever change, I hope people realize that doesn’t preclude the rest of us from fighting back and speaking up.

But while so many of you have thanked me for doing good, I am the one who should be doling out the thank yous.

Thank you. Thank all of you. I’m just a putz of a newspaper reporter who will never be famous. Tomorrow there will be some other viral video burning up the Internet and I’ll be an afterthought. And I’m OK with that. I’m not in this for fame and I gave up on fortune a long time ago.

But some things will remain permanent for all time.

I will keep all of your e-mails. All of your messages. All of your personal stories. It’s the most amazing feeling to open yourself up and leave yourself vulnerable to the world, and then have the world reach right back to you with open arms. There is nothing that can be done to erase the pain of what we went through losing Alex in July, but your words and gestures took as much of the sting away as possible. And for that I will be eternally grateful.

I have no idea where things will go from here, but I hope as many of you as possible stick around. Thank you all.

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The Wildebeest

Will is obsessed with dinosaurs the way Tiger Woods chases hookers.

We bought him a tub filled with dinosaurs and other creatures of all sizes. His favorite is the Brachiosaurus, probably because it’s the largest and the coolest looking. But surprisingly, out of all the T-Rexes, stegosauruses, triceratops and anklosauruses, his second most prized possession is a piddly little wildebeest.

It’s like an inch long and fairly unimpressive. But Will needed to know what each and every animal was called, and when I said “wildebeest” his eyes lit up for some reason. Maybe it’s just a fun name to say. Or maybe because he thinks they share the same first name. WILL-debeest. Who knows. The point is, he fucking loves this thing and needs it with him at all times.

I was in the other room getting dressed this morning when I heard giggling coming from the living room. I called out to Will and asked him what was so funny, but was greeted with more kid-cackling.

“What’s up buddy?” I asked, walking around the corner.

And that’s when I saw him — hands down his pants — looking intently down said pants and grasping onto something fairly hard.

“Dada. I’m playing with wildebeest in my pants!”

There it is. Just when you think the world is fresh out of cool euphemisms for penis, a 2.5-year-old inadvertently says “Check out my wildebeest!” while darting his hands down his pants.

I can’t wait to ask MJ if she wants to “tame my wildebeest” tonight.

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The Parenting Groove

I’m currently in what professional baseball players like to call “The Zone.”

Nobody knows exactly how you enter The Zone, but once you’re there you know it immediately. Hitters see the ball as if it’s coming toward them in slow motion. They’re guessing correctly on pitches as if they’re reading the pitcher’s mind. The bat strikes the ball on the sweet spot every single time, there’s no hitch in your swing and even the mistakes you make turn into bloop singles.

In short, they can do no wrong.

I don’t think parenting is any different. Sometimes the stars align, forces of nature cooperate and you parent your fucking ass off. This is where I’m at right now.

I’m not sure why, I’m definitely not doing anything differently. But I will not waste time looking a gift horse in the mouth either. I think a lot of it is from Will’s new daycare, which is so utterly fantastic it nearly makes me weep every time I think about it. He gets so much individual attention there from a variety of trained professionals and dedicated personnel. And the difference in his demeanor and his abilities is ASTOUNDING over the last three weeks.

He can count to 12 now, whereas no matter how hard we worked with him he couldn’t get past 5. It seems like he learns 20 new words everyday. But more than the words, he’s grasping concepts and emotions more than anything. I’m excited to pick him up everyday because I’m desperate to hear what he learned and to talk to him about everything, because we can really carry on conversations now.

And — perhaps most importantly — he has friends.

Yup. The kid who adamantly refused to let another kid near him when he played is now happily sharing, talking to and engaging with all the kids. And yesterday when I picked him up, he grabbed my hand and led me to the corner of the room. I thought he was going to show me a toy or something, but then he said something that nearly made me tear up.

“Dada, Dada! This is Colin. He’s my friend.”

To see the two of them playing together, chatting away, was all the evidence I needed to know that our financial struggles to keep him in this school are all worth it. He’s progressed so much in such a short time, and I know most of that progress is thanks to this school.

So maybe my entrance into The Zone is due mostly to Will being in a great mood because of school. But starting first thing in the morning, our routine is like a well-oiled machine. First I take him in the bathroom to pee. MJ showers first and when she gets out she puts together his lunch and gets him dressed except for socks and shoes. I shower next as MJ leaves for work, and Will watches Timmy the Sheep. When I get out I get myself dressed, put on his socks and shoes and give him a quick breakfast. I also take care of the dog. After watching some Handy Manny, Will puts his jacket on, turns off the TV and off we go to school.

That may seem like an easy step, but getting Will to leave the house in the past has not been easy.

Basically I used to take on the role as a hostage negotiator. Will refused to leave the house and I had to talk him out. He demanded to take his fire truck but I said it was too big to bring with him. From there we’d barter.

You can bring your small fire truck.

No, I want to bring my crane.

The crane is too big, you can bring your dump truck.

No dump truck, I want my tractor.

OK, the small tractor.

No, big tractor.

OK bud, you can take the medium-sized tractor and your monkey, OK?

Ummmm, OK Dada.

This is delicate negotiating we’re talking about here. But now, he just grabs his monkey and his Brachiosaurus (his new obsession is dinosaurs), stuffs them in his backpack and away we go.

Once we get to school we put our stuff away, go into the play room, I get a hug and a kiss and then I’m gone. No more tears and no more screaming. He’s happy to be there. But even though he likes it at school, the best part is he’s still happy to see me when I pick him up.

One of two things happens in the afternoon. 1) He sees me through the window when I pull up, and the result is a cute little blonde head bouncing up and down while smiling and banging on the window for me. Or 2) I sneak in and watch him play for a few minutes. Then I creep into the room and wait until he sees me. When he does, he stops whatever he’s doing, gets a huge grin on his face and shouts “DADA!!” before running over to me at warp speed and throwing his arms around me.

I’m completely addicted to the feeling I experience in that moment.

At night we play, mostly with dinosaurs but also with trucks and tractors. MJ gets home later and she takes over for awhile, as she is in charge of bath time and getting him ready for bed. But make no mistake, bedtime is all about Dada!

Will cannot go to sleep until I sing him our song, which is “Share the Darkness” by the Saw Doctors. I sing him my favorite verse, and because I’ve been doing this since he was a baby he knows the words too and sings along.

When the world belongs to distant dogs and the air is dark and still. And drunken conversations pass beneath the window sill. And there’s someone singin’ Elvis songs as they make their way back home. And all your fears and worries attack when you’re alone. So why don’t we share the darkness tonight. Make it warm and burn it bright. I’m not sayin nothin, I’ll be polite. Why don’t we share the darkness tonight.

And I end it the same way every time. I say “Goodnight Will, Dada loves you.” He gives me a kiss and says “Love you too Dada.” And I realize I’m a very lucky man.

I don’t usually post mushy stuff like this that recaps my days spent as a father. But the last few weeks have been such a positive change for us and Will, I felt it was appropriate. The crazy, chaotic and miserable days are the ones that usually get the most attention because all parents can relate and commiserate with feeling like they’re being pulled in a million directions and on the brink of a nervous breakdown. But then there are days like I’m having when your kid is in a great mood, you’re both having fun and everything is as close to perfection as possible.

And those days need attention too.

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It’s Fucking Football!

I have been attending New England Patriots games for approximately 25 of my 31 years on this Earth.

The Patriots’ old stadium was a piece of shit. It was a dilapidated amalgamation of concrete and misery. We peed in troughs instead of urinals. Some of us pissed in the sinks. Our bodies ached from sitting on cold, aluminum benches with no backs. But the pain was nothing compared to the many years of watching our beloved Patriots get their asses whooped.

Because the games were often so godawful, the tickets were still affordable. I can remember our seats (11 rows from the field in the end zone) being $18 a game. So you had real fans. Blue collar, drunk, passionate football fans. Salt of the Earth guys who were funny as hell, colorful beyond compare and hardy as they come. They were rude, crude and awesome.

And holy cow did they swear.

Everything I needed to know about vulgarity I learned at football games. The F-word was thrown around just as often as the pigskin, and I still vividly remember hearing Dan Marino called a “whiny fucking baby,” John Elway called a “dickless cocksucker” and Jim Kelly a “fucking pussy bitch.”

The best thing I ever heard was one guy — who we called Blue Face — yell to Doug Flutie during a Bills game. He said “Hey Flutie, I have your Christmas card. It says your sister’s a fuckin’ whore!”

I know what some of you are thinking.

You’re thinking that’s horrible. You’re thinking none of that is funny at all. And, as parents, you’re probably also thinking that my dad is nuts for taking a small, impressionable child to a place where drunk, crazy people yell expletives at one another. And you probably think all of that is completely inappropriate and has no place at a professional sporting event.

If that’s the case, you’d love going to a Patriots game at Gillette Stadium these days.

The house that Bob Kraft built is big, beautiful and spotless. The bathrooms have urinals now. No one pees in the sink anymore. Well, one guy did but I think they took his season tickets away. The concourses are wider, no one throws beer on opposing fans and the Blue Faces of the old Patriots world were priced out of their seats in 2002. In fact, if I had to choose one word to define a day spent watching the Patriots at Gillette, it would be “sanitary.”

I hate the people who sit in front of us. I mean I really hate them. And they hate me.

I know none of you will believe this, but I’m loud when I watch a game. I yell a lot. And I swear. I swear profusely. Unfortunately I sit in front of yuppie, wannabe dicks who think being a devoted fan means buying the latest Patriots leather jacket. And when I come to a game, they do nothing but roll their eyes and bitch at me. Unfortunately I have no back-up, because I’m surrounded by yuppies now because real fans can no longer afford to attend.

But today, when the Patriots played the Ravens, I had some support.

These three young guys sat next to me and they were great. They were drunk, they were pumped up and they were funny. Swearing up a storm, cheering on our team, I briefly had flashbacks of happier times. We high-fived, we cursed freely and we watched as the Patriots knocked off the Ravens in overtime.

But not before the soccer mom in front of us tried to squash all the fun.

I saw her getting frustrated with our cheering, which only made me cheer louder and harder. Finally she snapped. She turned around and said “Stop it! Stop it right now! I’m tired of the yelling, and I’m tired of the swearing. I don’t want to hear ‘fuck’ and ‘pussy’ anymore. Cut it out NOW!”

The guys looked taken aback but they kept their cool. One of the guys told her no problem and she turned around with a smug smile on her face. My blood boiled while I entertained the thought of an errant football striking her in the face. Just as I was gearing up to unleash on the Fun Police, one of the guys leaned down and asked what the woman had just said.

“She told us not to swear, and not to say fuck and pussy anymore,” one guy said with a smirk.

“Really? Wow. Well why the fuck not? What’s the big fucking problem? Doesn’t she know this is a fucking football game? Why is she being such a pussy?”

I laughed so hard I spit bits of my sausage on the dicks in front of me. I was laughing so hard it was more of a howl than anything. I gave each one of those guys a hug because in that moment, I fucking loved them. I’m pretty sure security made them leave in the fourth quarter because the no fun twat likely called the stadium cops on them, but I appreciate their sacrifice.

There were no kids around, we were all adults. And guess what? IT’S A FUCKING FOOTBALL GAME. People swear at a football game. It is a game built on violence in which fans actively root for grown men to hit each other as hard as they can. It is a uniquely American game that is defined — from the fan perspective — by male bonding, grilling meat and consuming way too much beer.

So if i want to call Joe Flacco a noodle-armed pussy or yell at Ray Lewis because he’s a murdering degenerate fuckwad who I hope has his legs broken, I’m going to. This is football, not chess. And when you come to an NFL game you should expect to hear foul language. You should know you’re going to be around drunk people. Those people should never get violent or out of hand (except if they’re roughing up an opposing team’s fan, then all is fair), but they should be allowed to curse. To yell. To get into the spirit of things.

Because if not, you get Gillette Stadium. You get a bunch of rich, quiet pricks who have no idea what it’s like to be a real football fan. People say there’s no real home field advantage at Gillette and they’re right. That’s because security guards come around and tell us to watch our language. Do you fucking believe that shit?? If I want to tell Tom Brady that he should cut his pansy hair because he looks like fucking Justin Bieber crossed with a Jonas brother, I should be able to do that dammit. And I shouldn’t have to worry about the caviar-eating, bandwagon-hopping, yuppie piece of shit in front of me getting offended.

Because IT’S FUCKING FOOTBALL. You got that you shit-eating motherfucking douchebags??

The Eagles have a homefield advantage because Philly fans, while ultimately deplorable, are fucking lunatics. Some Raiders fans are nuts, as are a good faction of Jets fans. Steelers too. And while I defecate on anyone who doesn’t root for the almighty Patriots, I respect those who realize “fan” is short for “fanatic.” Can you imagine Eagles fans being told to watch their mouths during a game? No, you can’t. And why not? Because it would never fucking happen. They are left to do what they do without sanitizing the fan experience to the point that we’re all like Indianapolis fans, who are so unfailingly polite I wanted to destroy all of them.

If you don’t like all the swearing and the NFL experience in general, stay the fuck home. No one wants you at the stadium.

Fuck.

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