Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dear 22-yr-old Italianate Beauty Who Just Started in the Office

Hey there... You're new... And I've noticed you noticing me noticing you... Got that?

Anyway, yes, I've been running around here, with my files and folders, barking orders, talking about deadlines... I'm the project manager guy, yes... And I see from your cubicle, outside this VP's door, that you're the new assistant. Nice to finally meet you...

My name is Mr. Unit Parental. Now, let me flash you the wallpaper of my iphone. Yeah, that little guy in the Obama shirt is the Life Force Sucker. Why, thank you. Yes, he is cute. I guess, well, I'm just endowed with the genetic material needed to create devastatingly cute offspring.Yup...

So you just started here, huh? Just graduated from SUNY Stony Brook. Congrats!

...So this is your first job out of college, eh? And you're 22? Well, you got your whole life in front of you... You live in Park Slope? Go figure... With your boyfriend, eh? Yeah, well, you're young, and, if I can says so, I'm sure this boyfriend of yours is a good guy. But, really, this guy might not be the be-all. He might just be a way station in your long life to come. I mean, um, all I'm saying is, I'm taking a survey of the landscape--uh huh--and I got to tell you, you got a long road ahead of you. And why peg yourself to one driving partner this early on. If anything, now is the time for you to, well, live a little wild, to live FREE & WILD. To be young... You get what I'm saying.

Anyway, I'll talk to you later, nice to meet you.

L8R in the Week

Hey, what's going on? How you liking it here? Yeah, the people are really nice. What you working on? Excel eh? Well, if you need any tips, I am the Excel master. As a project manager, you know, I make all kinds of lists. To-do lists, asset lists, all kinds o' lists. So if you need help just holla...

(Think to self but do not say: Did anyone ever tell you, btw, you look like a young Monica Belluci? You're so fresh-faced, so rosy-cheeked, I'm just gonna stand here and smile at you for a second, and drink in your YOUTH and WIDE OPEN FUTURE... Nothing wrong with that, right?...)

Oh, I took some new pics of the Life Force Sucker. Here, let me show you once again my iphone... Here he is murdering a lollipop... Here he is on a swing in the playground... Here he is standing in front of the seals at the zoo...

Yeah, you wanna have kids one day? Well, like I said before, you got the whole world in front of you. How about you travel first? Have some adventures, get your fill of experiences... Now is the time to live FREE...

EVEN L8R - Like The Next Week

Hey there again. What floor you going to? Here, I got it. Hey, did anyone ever tell you you look like Phoebe Cates, in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. What's Fast Times? It's a movie! You mean, you haven't seen it? It's a classic. It was made in 1982...

Oh, sure, you weren't even born yet! ha ha ha...

Anyway, you got to rent that movie. Netflix it. But I swear, you look just like her. And my other favorite character from that movie is the guy Judge Reinhold played. Yeah, you just got to see it.

Anyway, yeah, my project is going a-okay. It's not without hiccups. You know, websites, technology. Code... Well, this is my floor. Got to go.

EVEN L8R - Later in That Week...

Hey, where you been? What's up... Hey... Um... Okay, see you later.

What's up with the cold shoulder? OUCH!!!! Hey, it's just me, Mr. Unit Parental. Mr. Harmless Older Dude at the Office.

Dear 22-yr-old Italianate Beauty Who Just Started in the Office...

Hey there. What happened? Where's the bashful smile? What about our ritualistic chitchat? I got some new pics of the Life Force Sucker...

What's this awkwardness? All I'm saying is, hi there... Wassup? I'm just passing the time, harmlessly. I mean, I'm sorry if I, well, like talking to you, about life. I have to admit: I like gawking at your WIDE OPEN FUTURE, at your GLOWING YOUTH. At all the GLORIOUS POSSIBLE PATHS still open to you in your young life. Is that so bad? Is it?

So, please, come on back, talk to me. It's just me. Mr. Unit Parental... Project Manager Dude at the office...

Think of me as an older-brother figure

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The grass is always greener

Here are some of the things yours truly could be doing if I were childless:

Pushing myself to new, heroic limits

Meeting interesting people...

Receiving adulation for my achievements.

But, alas, all those plans are now officially put on hold. That's because I have become the Unit Parental. Slave to, and living foodstuff for, the Life Force Sucker.

Me Time...

"So I was walking around the 'hood with the Life Force Sucker tucked in his Baby Bjorn... And I noticed this [INSERT INANE OBSERVATION HERE]"

Good God, if this turns into one of those blogs in which every banal thought of the writer is captured, every un-blogworthy anectode told, just to fill up space... PLEASE KILL ME.

Here is something I swear to you, my readers. I will only share deep philosophical ideas about parenthood and New York City with you. I may illustrate these ideas with anecdotes and minutae. But I will never throw in something just to clutter up this mother of all clusterfucks we call blogspace.

This picture speaks to the essence of fatherhood.

So let's get to today's point: Me Time. Or the abject lack of it once you become a father.

And let's also be honest about our true selves and natures. If you live in Brooklyn these days, there is strong chance--some statisticians put it at 90%--that you came from a town called Elsewhere, USA. In other words, you are a transplant. Or to put it less kindly, you are a gentrifying interloper who followed your vital stores of self-delusion and self-aggrandizement and your strong gut feeling that, like, Tony Manero, you were destined for better things, to the Big City. You found Manhattan a touch twee and vulgar (and too expensive) for your artistic tastes, and hence, you went to Brooklyn and joined one of its various colonies of hipness.

(How ironic, no? That just three and some short decades ago, John Travolta wanted to go to Manhattan to make it? But now, Manhattan is about as hip as a stockbroker's gilded bathroom... Brooklyn is where it's at.)

In other words, my fellow Brooklynite, you are a SELF-CENTERED TOOL. I'm not being righteous; I, the Unit Parental, am just like you. Yes, I can admit it. That's one of the things parenthood does to you--it takes away the places to hide; it makes you stare at the misshapen thing in the mirror and take honest appraisal... But enough about me. Back to you...

Being a self-centered tool, you took it for granted that the hip universe (e.g., the East Village, or Williamsburg... depending on when you came to New York City) revolved around you. In other words, you were the beginning and the word, the alpha and the omega, the sacred and bejeweled and fabulous THING around which all things spun. You came to the City to make it, because if you can make it here... well, you know the rest.

And now, my friends, a full decade and a half after you first arrived in the city, you are still living in your shitty little apartment, which doubles as your painting studio, your novel/screenplay writing space, your shitty band's rehearsal space. Your hair has grayed, your fabulous youth has faded. Oh, the crow's feet! The cellulite! The widow's peak! The ache in your overtaxed liver.

But in that deluded head of yours, you are still the shit. It's just a matter of time before you hit it BIG.

But I must break the bad news to you: the only reason you are still the shit is because you have not yet had a child...

Take my own life as a moral lesson. I too once thought I was the shit. I thought I was the biggest stinkiest shit around. But then, reality came in the form of my parental schedule and obligations. Oh, I rebelled at first. I can still go biking with my friends. I can still go out drinking and, well, I’ll just get up at 5am with the kiddie. I did it in college, didn’t I???? Living large all night long… And in between all this partying and merrymaking, I'll just work on the novel.

But no amount of energy can put up with this schedule:

3:35AM – Wake up to Life Force Sucker screaming that his Magic Turtle nightlight and musical toy “Needs battewies.”

4AM – Locate 4 double C batteries. Unscrew battery console of Magic Turtle. Take old batteries out. Mix them up with NEW batteries. Curse under breath. Feel guilty for saying Fuck as sleepy Life Force Sucker looks on in half-darkness.

4:30AM – Finally identify new batteries, stick them inside Magic Turtle correctly. Turn Magic Turtle on for Life Force Sucker. Go back to bed.

5AM – Get up to Life Force Sucker screaming for milk. Get milk. Give it to Life Force Sucker.

5:30AM – Get up to Life Force Sucker screaming, “I’m finished.” Scream back that Life Force Sucker should put cup on floor beside his Big Boy Bed. Life Force Sucker screams until I go into his room and take cup from his little hands and put it on floor myself.

6:30AM – Get up to Life Force Sucker screaming he wants more milk and he wants to watch Dragon Tales on Mommy’s bed. Carry Life Force Sucker, who is heavy and bloated with milk, to bed. Go get more milk.

7AM – Get up and shower and shave. Put on work clothes. Take Life Force Sucker to living room, make him oatmeal, put on coffee.

7:30AM – Try in vain to get Life Force Sucker to eat the oatmeal I have lovingly microwaved for him. Stand before my new GOD, the Krups coffeemaker, and slurp Fairway’s Organic blend.

7:45-8:30AM – Wait for the Life Force Sucker’s nanny. Wife leaves for work. Sit there and tap foot for a long time because our nanny, let’s call her The Saint, is perennially late. She is also unapologetic about it. She knows she has me and Mrs. Unit Parental by the short and curlies. She takes loving care of my son; better care than I myself am equipped to give my son (Reasons for this will be discussed in future entries).

9:30-5PM – Arrive at work breathless and late. Work like an indentured servant until 5pm, because I have to get back home by 6pm, or else pay the nanny overtime, even though she owes me many back hours due to her morning tardiness. But my liberal guilt won’t allow me to collect on those hours.

5-6PM – Put coat on and run to subway station. Try to read on commute back to Brooklyn. But I only manage to Hate myself and Hate my beloved City. I am a Web project manager, meaning I am expected to work from 10am to 11pm, regardless of the fact that I have a kid. In other parts of the country, of course, having a kid is considered part of the HUMAN LIFE CYCLE... But here in New York, having kids is known as a CAREER LIABILITY and a SIGN OF WEAKNESS, i.e., you were not cool/hip/powerful enough to resist your own built-in biology. How St. Louis, Missouri, of you...

6-7:30PM – Fight with the Life Force Sucker about eating his dinner and how much TV he seems to be watching and how many ice creams and treats he is asking for during the course of the evening.

8PM – Bathe and groom the Life Force Sucker like he is Sea Biscuit.

9PM – Watch fifteen minutes of mixed martial arts on Versus or Spike and cry.

10PM – Pass out with Mrs. Unit Parental on the sofa.

3:34AM – Wash, rinse, repeat all of the above…

I could, of course, become one of those parents who neglects his child because he's too busy pursuing his own dreams. Or one of those parents who lives his frustrated dreams through his child--a child who will, in turn, develop a severely stooped posture from having to return again and again to his parent's deep well of bitterness, to scoop the foul water there and carry it in a clay urn, atop his downturned head, back to the poisoned village called his childhood.

But I swore to myself I would not have one of those fucked up New York City kids who is already so self-conscious and uber-hip that he is not really having a childhood but is, in fact, suffering the childhood his suburbs-to-Brooklyn transplant parents wish they had for themselves.

So what am I doing? I'm trying to raise my kid with as much, gulp, dare I say it, love as i can. I'm trying to teach him that he is NOT the center of the universe. Only the center of my (imploded, wrecked) universe.

Oh, I am like an astronomer of old who, after years of looking up at the stars, after years of scribbling calculations on my notebooks of parchment, makes the startling, world-rattling discovery that it is the earth that revolves around the sun, and not visa versa!

I am the Unit Parental

I am the Unit Parental. I'm a 35-year-old dad living in Brooklyn, New York. I live with my wife and our two and a half year old son, a.k.a, the Life Force Sucker. And to put it bluntly, while I love my kid, I hate fatherhood.

Responsibility... patience... unconditional love... selflessness... Ask anyone who knows the Unit Parental! Parenthood is not for me!

Sure, there are good times. Like, once in a while, when the little guy is latched on and sucking away heartily at my life force, I can lull myself into thinking, this is good, this is the meaning of life. I mean, in some ways, having your living essence leeched right out of you can produce warm and fuzzy feelings... It can! Trust me. But at the end of the day, I can't help but come to the same conclusion: Fatherhood is wrong for me.

And so, I am bitter. I am bitter for having been fooled into thinking I was ready for this. I have no one to blame but myself. I lied to myself. Told my self I was a real adult.

But it must also be said that my loving and conniving wife played a part in this, THE GREATEST CON JOB of our young century--she should know me by now. I am a man-child, still protean myself. But she said, do you want to be 45 when we have our first kid?

I should have said, what the hell do you mean "first?" And I should have said, yes, why not, 45 sounds about right... that's what all our friends are doing.

Yes, living in New York City, I have the terrible fortune of being the first, and still only, one of my friends to have become a Parental Unit. That's right: my friends, who officially became insufferable after my wife and I had our little son, are busy doing that New York City thing: They are dragging their EARLY TWENTIES into their VERY LATE THIRTIES.

Here's a sampling of the things they still insist on talking about:
  1. Man, we got so wasted last night... The amount of drinks we had was just EPIC!
  2. We're having dinner at our place for some folks, and the Life Force Sucker is totally invited... We'll start with drinks around 9.
  3. We'd love to get a cabin with you at Hunter Mountain this winter. But, you're going to bring your kid's nanny right?
  4. We saw this great band last night in Williamsburg.
Hello? Message to my hipster wanker friends: All the alcohol and late nights is doing terrible fucking things to your skin! You have Clintonesque eyebags! You are all looking a little worn down--like Sid and Nancy worn down. It is not SEXY. Nothing about your perpetual adolescence and your skinny jeans (I'm talking to my GUY friends here...) is fashionable. Despite whatever messages you are getting form Spin or Rolling Stone, degeneration is not fashionable. And irony fits the young best... And to borrow an expression from another crotchety old man (Sen. McCain) you, my friends, are no longer young! Accept it! And join me in the love-filled pool of misery that is PARENTHOOD!!!

Ultimately, that's my goal for this blog. To catalog the lovely indignities of parenthood in New York City. And to get my friends to start reproducing.

To all the beautiful and stylish significant others of my dudely friends, you all have bravely closed your ears to the ticking of your biological clocks. But maybe you will not be able to turn a deaf ear to this other sound. Here it is: EEEEKKKKKSKSSSSSSEKKESKKKKSKSSSHEW...

What's that sound? you ask. I will tell you: That's the sound of your ovaries drying up, like that bag of seedless organic Fairway grapes, shriveling up in the back of your fucking fridge...