Friday, July 21, 2006

Thursdays with Poozer

A heartwarming tale about a man, his child, and the world that doesn't understand them.
Ok, not really.
I've had one of those days. It started badly, it didn't get any better, and it ended up just as annoying. Other than my son, that is.
Let me tell you a tale of a man facing off against a city....
7:15 am: It starts with a knock at my front door. You see my neighbors are out of town right now. I have a spare key and have agreed to water their plants and take their trash to the curb, but that's it. Someone else is supposed to be feeding their cats.
This person forgot the key, but was told I would have a spare.
So, at 7:15, the knocking on my door became a bang as I searched for clothes to answer the door in.
"Ummm. Can I help you?" I ask still in a slight fog of sleep. You see I took the late shift. The very late shift so my wife could sleep. It was part of her "24 hours of you" I gave her.
She had 24 hours for it all to be about her health and well-being. I took the kid for everything except feedings (which I can't do...until he goes to bottle feeding...which I'll get to later). So, when he was fussy, I got up. When he couldn't sleep between 4 and 5, I took him. You get the idea.
"It's about time. I was knocking forever," the gal says.
"Yeah...I have this new kid. Month old today, in fact, and we were sleeping."
"Whatever. I need the key."
"Go to the other door and be quiet. I'll get you the key," I tell her.
After fetching the key, I go and shower. My son is feeding, so I have some time.
I get dressed and see the gal attempting to leave with my key. I go out while still putting on my shirt. The gal sees me...and STARTS TO BACK UP FASTER!
Seeing that she is trying to take my key, I run into the street, calling her, and then finally bang on her hood.
"What are you doing?!" She screams.
"You're trying to take my key," I reply. "I need it in order to let their cat in tomorrow."
"I don't have your key," she says.
I look in and it's in the cup holder. I tell her so.
" that yours?" she says, then hands it to me.
"Try not to forget your key tomorrow," I tell her," Because I won't be opening up no matter what. Have a nice day now."
10:30 am: I have just dropped my wife at her appointment at
Litespa. As part of her day, I have gotten her a pedicure and haircut. Her feet are pretty raw, and she wants the haircut. I'm an obliging husband, so I set it up for her. This means I will have Poozer to myself for a few hours. No problem. We'll go pick up the professional pictures we had done then go for a walk around downtown.
No problem...right?
I was wrong.
The first issue came when I picked up the pictures at Ridgedale Mall.
Explain something to me, folks: What is it about a man pushing around a stroller all by himself that makes people either nervous or stupid?
I swear, people would stop and stare at me as I walked through that mall. I felt like I was wearing the Scarlet "P" (for parent). I was waiting for that scene from Invasion of the Body Snatchers when the woman points at Donald Sutherland and makes that horrendous, alien noise. I tought one woman was going to do that when her daughter asked her, "Where is that baby's mommy?"
As for the stupid part? Well in both entering the mall and leaving it, I ran into people unwilling to hold the door open. In one case, the guy saw me coming and let go of the door just a split second before I got there. This meant I had to grab the door before it slammed into the side of my son's stroller without somehow jarring his head to one side when I had to move quickly.
And what is it about people touching babies? Seriously! I walked past a kiosk and this woman saw Little Leab all passed out in his stroller. She rushed up next to me and started to talk to me.
"He's adorable!"
"What? Oh, thanks."
"Look at his hair!"
At this point she tries to touch his head. What? Have I somehow given her permission to touch his head by acknowledging her compliment?
I didn't quite slap her hand, but I made a quick swerve and said, "Oh. When he's really can't touch him. He gets angry. Sorry."
Slightly annoyed, I set back to downtown Minneapolis.
11:35 am: While walking around, I came to the realization about a few things.
1. I now walk much slower than I used to. Now that sounds odd, but you have to understand: I'm a New Yorker. If any of us entered into the speed walking competition in the Olympics, we'd win by miles. MILES, I tell you. Yet, as I walked about the Skyway today, I was much slower than almost everyone around me. It astonished me. I didn't want to go speeding along. No, slow and steady to keep Poozer comfortable and to people watch. I had a lot of time to kill. Yet business people were blowing by me so fast that I could almost feel the wind. One guy voiced his displeasure at me (while on a cell phone as well) and then shoved into a tiny space between the stroller and the wall to pass me. There was room on the left (made me think of those bikers who scream "On the Left!" while passing), but he chose the right. Then he was angry when he almost biffed it. I was all the way over. What else was I supposed to do? At one point, I pulled over to get some cash from an ATM. I was amazed at how fast people came by. You know how in some music videos the protagonist stands still and is clear, yet the world rushes around him? That's what it was like. It was an odd feeling.
2. People do not like strollers or men with strollers. I was obvious people were annoyed with me walking around with a stroller. I took up too much space on the elevator, I was too slow, and I was not always looking where I was going. I admit all these, but sometimes, people without strollers are just as guilty. I walked to the second floor of the IDS building, and pulled over to the extreme side (near Potbelly). I was nowhere near a door or anything. A woman walking, reading (could have been a day planner, could have been court documents), and talking on a cell phone wasn't paying attention. She walked extremely quickly into my stroller and nearly knocked it over. I caught it, but not before my son woke up.
I was annoyed (the running theme of the day). This woman then turned and started yelling at me about how "People and their fucking strollers. Go someplace else with that thing. Get out of the way!"
Now, I'm already annoyed, and my son is chirping, having been woken from his slumber by this caffeine-crazed idiot, so, in my best annoyed-teacher voice, I said, "Lady...get off the damn phone and watch what your doing. If my son had been hurt, I swear I'd have thrown you over this balcony. Get your shit together and move on before I claim you hurt a baby."
No more words, she left. She asked the person on the phone if he or she heard what I said, and her flustered tone told me that this person didn't. Even if he or she had, I was near a camera. I could back it up in court.
Still, she wasn't the only one. Several people didn't pay attention to or didn't care about the stroller. I also heard a few people looking at me and saying things like, "A guy...alone...with a stroller...that's weird, man."
3. You can never go home again. I went by St. Thomas, which was a mistake. None of the teachers I would want to talk to were there. Security followed me around the building (this goes back to the whole "guy with a stroller" thing) as if my stroller had an explosive in it instead of a baby.
I crossed over the business school (which was nice...I guess) into the law school. I had never been in the law building before. After today, I will never go back. Why you ask? Because I was kicked out. That's right, I was kicked out of the building.
Well, I was on the second floor. You have to go by the library in order to get to the elevators. I stopped to buy myself a drink, and while it was dispensing, Poozer let out a chirp. Then I got in to the elevator. I was met by a security officer.
"Sir, you're going to have to leave. Your son is being too loud."
"Ok, I'm on my way out anyway. Just waiting for the elevator."
"Good, because we have people here studying to become lawyers, and they don't need your child's noise to distract them."
"Ok then."
From below, I hear someone say (quite loudly, I might add), "Yeah, get that damn kid out of here. We're trying to study!"
The elevator arrives, and I go down to the first floor. It's now that I see the person who yelled up.
He and his friend are playing ping-pong. Apparently, as I was told on the way out, the baby's cry made him lose the point.
This led to an interesting moment outside.
1:50 pm: With Poozer having been fed and changed and such, it was then we headed through our adventure at St. Thomas. He did, in fact, eat from a bottle, but it was work. He really hated it. It's going to be interesting. Back to the point. He and I have left St. Thomas and are walking across toward Litespa, when we see...WCCO's
Jason DeRusha walking up 12th (and obviously heading back to WCCO. I call out to him:
But he keeps walking.
I try again.
My son stirs a little.
Now, I'm not going to run, but I do step a little quicker.
At this point, he turns and looks right at me, so I yell,
"DeRusha, you fucking rock!"
He keeps walking. It's at this point I notice the trail of headphones in his ears. He couldn't hear me. He was lost in whatever music he was listening to while walking.
I wasn't going to run after him, as I had my son and needed to get my wife, but it was nice to see him out and about. Shows that not all those news people are afraid to descend among the people.
Should we start calling him, "The People's Reporter," a la The Rock (as the People's Champion)?
7:45 PM: This is the point where I almost lose faith in all humanity. Forget the people who don't see my son. I expect that of people without children, because I used to be one of them.
What hurts, however, is when the people that you trust or have helped in the past do not reciprocate.
I was tired this evening as I did the things I normally do on Thursday night: Mow the lawn, clean the house (vacuum, clean the bathroom, wipe down the kitchen), take out the recycling, and so on. I also had to take my neighbor's recycling and trash out as well. (They're gone, remember?)
So it's not a bad night out, and almost all of the people on my street are out on their lawns or talking to each other or whatever.
I'm taking my recycling to the curb, when I hit a patch in the driveway and my bin starts to tip.
I've got it, but just barely.

Slowly I can feel it tipping away from me, so I call out, "Hey! I need some help here please. PLEASE! I NEED SOME HELP HERE!"
No one moves. They just stare.
Again, no one moves. Hell, two doors down, they get up...and watch. That's right. They watched. They never left their lawn.
I lost it. In slow motion before my eyes, the whole can tipped, and a large chunk of my recycling spilled out into my garden and the street.
"Dammit!" I shout.
I now hear laughter coming from a few different people.
"Would anyone mind helping me please?" I ask.
Again, I am surprised when no one comes to help me. No one!
They again watch as I pick up every piece that has fallen out. It takes me about five minutes.
I even hear the guy across the street commenting to his friend about the items in my stuff.
Are you kidding me? Where is the supposed Minnesota Nice? Oh, that's's passive/aggressive behavior...not common courtesy.
These are all people that I have helped in the past.
The guy commenting to his wife? I helped him clean out his gutters.
The people on the lawn? I showed them how to fix their mower.
Yet when I ask for help? Forget it.
I grew up in places where houses weren't so close or where there were apartments. I had always seen these places in movies, or heard stories about neighbors being friends. It seemed so nice, but in reality, Bob and Jim don't really barbeque together.
My neighborhood still won't accept my wife and I after three years because we're too young. Hell, one of the people on the block recently put their house up for sale because of the, "young people...they're annoying."
Young people? There's my wife and I, and one other couple under 35. That's it.
The reason they wouldn't help me? Because I'm young. That's harsh.
1 am: My son is asleep next to me as I write.
Shortly before he passed out, he smiled at me. Whether it was a real smile or gas, he still smiled. It made the world better, at least for a little while.
In my family, we talk about how my father has become anti-social in some ways, but on days like today, I'm not sure he's wrong. Do I want my son to be angry at the world? No, but I won't protect him completely from it. That's the problem I have with people who don't inform their children about reality: They truly believe ignorance is bliss, but it just leads to more trouble.
I hope my son learns from me without becoming me.
I also hope that my son one day looks back and understands that no matter what kind of person I become, I love him, and he is a huge part of my sanity now.
I don't know. I'm tired and rambling. He's a month old today (according to me. My wife says it's by the day he was born, so four tuesdays later, which means he's one month and two days old today).
In some ways it's funny. If my 19 year old self saw me now, he'd kick my ass. I got married (swore I wouldn't), had a child (been told I shouldn't), and I work a "normal" job (Had an offer to work for Momix, but turned it down...he would have REALLY been pissed by that one).
When the hell did I become a person?


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Summertime Hockey

Wow, so The Minnesota Wild apparently listened when their fans complained this off-season.
Several million dollars later (and one trade that is a wait-and-see), the team is completely different.
Suddenly there is an offensive-defenseman in the form of Kim Johnsson.
There is a "Banger" in the form of Keith Carney.
Down and dirty forward? They signed Mark Parrish.
All of the youngsters are back as well.
If there is a questionable move, it is the Pavol Demitra trade. I understand that this was done in order to make Marion Gaborik re-sign, but Patrick O'Sullivan was considered one of the best prospects in the NHL. Not in the system, but in the entire league. Demitra, though very talented, is 31 years old, and he has been getting injured more frequently (a concussion, a leg injury, and an eye injury most recently).
If O'Sullivan goes on to be like Ovechkin, and the Wild miss the playoffs again, then the system will have to be completely overhauled. However, if Demitra returns to the form he showed in St. Louis, and the Wild beat up on the Northwest division, then all is right as rain...except for one thing:
Guys....Unless you make the playoffs, do NOT raise ticket prices again. I'm not sure the fans will respond to that very well.
Maybe I should start a blog a la
Batgirl about the Wild...what do you think?
Other strange news in Hockey.
Neil Smith.
You've probably never heard of him, but he was the general manager of the New York Rangers when they won the Stanley Cup in 1994.
He was fired and replaced, so he went on to be an announcer.
Recently the New York Islanders (a team I really dislike) hired him. When I say recently, I mean 40 days ago.
So how odd is it that after the draft and the free agent signing he has helped complete, he was
fired today and replaced by a goalie on the team. Garth Snow, the back up goalie, retired and took his place.
Now this is strange for several reasons.
1. Many Islander fans are now wondering what the hell is going on. The team made several positive moves in the last month and seemed to be heading in a good direction.
2. Snow is one year older than my sister (He's in his 30's). I wonder if the owner of the Islanders (Mr. Charles Wang) is hoping for the same miracle that happened to the Boston Red Sox (Theo Epstein is a very young man as well).
3. Neil Smith has won a Stanley Cup. Don't overlook that. Yet, here is a guy who has never done been a general manager, and he is expected to help a team return to greatness (in the mid 80's, the Islanders won four Stanley Cups in a row).
Now I look at it this way:
Think of the staff of a typical office (let's use a paper company like on The Office). You have the executives, the middle management, and the "grunts" or workers. The "grunts" take care of the warehouse, the middle management balances all the numbers, and the executives oversee the whole operation.
This is the same thing in hockey. The "grunts" are the players, the middle management are the coaches, and the executives are the GMs and the owners. Got it?
Now, imagine this business. One day, the president hires a new VP and says, "I have complete confidence in you."
After one month, the president looks at what the VP has been doing and talks to the workers. The workers say, "We like him, but he was out of management for a long time...seems strange. Still...he's really good."
The president says, "Interesting." Then, he fires the VP after only a month.
Instead of promoting from middle management (who might know the job or understand exactly what to do), the president takes one of the "grunts" and says, "You have the job now. Good luck." The "grunt" the president picked is younger than all of the middle management, has only been with the company for a few years, and has never done the job expected of him (has no training).
Looking at this company, do you have confidence?
This is why most Islander fans are now wondering what happened? My take? Wang is a VERY controlling owner. It's possible that Smith was not doing what he wanted and so he was fired. Plus Mike Milbury is still with the Islanders, and he is a control freak.
This bares watching. If the Islanders make more moves and are terrible then Snow will be roasted. If, however, they do nothing else and play amazingly, the fans will probably say, "Hey Smith did a great job."
In the end I feel bad for Snow (who, by the way, lost his last five decisions in goal). He may be hit harder than Isiah Thomas in New York.
The last two Stanley Cup Champions have been in the Southeast part of the country (Tampa Bay and Carolina).
That's troubling.
No wonder the Canadians are angry. It would be like the Toronto Blue Jays winning the World Series every year.
I guess this means that Phoenix has to win this year. A hockey team in the desert....Go figure.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Let Sleeping Babes Lie

Is this baby really asleep, or is he contemplating the destruction of the Earth?
Isn't it amazing how much he looks like Winston Churchill?
That being said, here is the reason why, though I am losing sleep, I am quite content.

It's Poozer at his best.

The Taming of the Roo: Part I

Before he was born, my wife and I called our soon Roo.
It was born out of two ideas:
1. We both like the world of the Hundred Acre Woods, and
2. Every freaking time someone in my family creates a plan for us to go to Australia together, someone either gets pregnant or has health issues.
I had made a killer plan to go to the land down under, but it was not to happen. Thus, Poozer was called Roo in the womb because he was the child to Kanga (my wife) and kangaroos are found in Australia. Pretty simple.
Now, I don't plan on going through all the details (I think we can skip conception, right?), but many funny things happened over the course of the nine months leading up to and including my son's birth. Let's start in the beginning (but after conception, sheesh).
My wife and two of her friends went to New York in October of 2005. It was the first weekend of October, and my wife wasn't feeling well. This was supposed to be a girls' weekend in the NYC, but Mrs. Leab really wasn't in the partying mood.
I was here alone. It was me, my cats, and a deck of cards (they're quite good blackjack players, really).
When I first spoke to the gang of girls, I thought something was up. One of her friends said, "Yeah, she's not really feeling well. Threw up her dinner."
"Well, did she drink?" I asked.
"No, she only had water."
That set off the alarm bell in my head. I immediately assumed she was pregnant.
For the two months since they had set up the trip, all my wife had talked about was going to
Babbo. My wife and I had been to another of Mario Batali's restaurants (Esca) where we were told that, while the food there was good, Babbo's food and wine were better.
As the story was related to me, my wife had such bad morning sickness (that would be the worst it was for her. The rest of the time she wasn't too bad) that she could only look at the food she ordered. She couldn't eat it. (On a side note, she ended up boxing up the food and giving it to my father. I have no idea if he ever ate it.)
Again, having talked to her friend, I am already suspicious. My wife calls me and says, "I think I just had some bad food," but I hear something in the background that sounds like laughing.
Fast forward two days. My wife returns home and gives me a gift. From Tiffany's no less (which is horrible, because my first thought was "Dammit! She spent money on me...and too much to boot."
I open the box.
It's a spoon with animals on it. I remark:
"It's a spoon. A very small spoon." My wife is smiling. "Seems like a baby spoon."
"It is," she says.
"You're pregnant...." I say.
"Yes!" she screams.
"I knew it. I knew you didn't have food poisoning," I say.
Now some people say that upon hearing they are going to be adding to their family that their mind races with possibilities. I have to tell you: It's true.
In my mind I started flashing through every room in my house trying to figure out what I would need to do to baby proof.
That led to me thinking about all of the things I would need to pay for:
Day Care
And on and on it went.
My final thought I said aloud. In my best Roy Scheider voice, I say, "We're gonna need a bigger house...."
My wife laughed and told me to breathe.
But the images and thoughts kept running through my head:
What about my cats?
Am I going to have to get a more family-friendly car?
How is this going to work with the school year?
Private or public school for the kid?
I tried very hard to keep myself calm in front of my wife. I was excited, but there was a dark undercurrent to it.
If I was to become a parent, then my parents would be moving into the grandparent phase...which meant they were closing to leaving this Earth.
I know, I know. Strange thought, but it still wormed its way into my head. As I celebrated the beginning of my wife's pregnancy, I started worrying over what would happen to my parents. How much longer would I have them to help me? How soon before I, like my parents, became an orphan?
Of course these were not rational thoughts, but the first few minutes after being told you're going to be a parent rarely are.
I ended up getting a storage space out in Plymouth in order to clean out my house. (This was required as I had, according to my wife, "Too many books for one house.")
The pregnancy would be normal with some very interesting times ahead.