Saturday, March 30, 2013


In one day my Facebook account will be permanently removed.  I'm on the fence about reactivating it because I really haven't missed it.  There are some real upsides from not being on Facebook and I'm not sure going back would be worth it.

1. When I see people in real life I actually have shit to talk about.  When you try a new restaurant I won't know it until i talk to you and you tell me about it.  Did you try a great new beer?  I'll miss the picture of your glass of beer but you can tell me all about it and I'll be like "yeah, sounds tasty".  Those vacation photos?  Have me over for dinner and show me them.  I love dinner.

2. No pressure to congratulate people on their anniversaries, promotions, kid's wedding or graduation, it's not that I don't want to it's just that I feel shitty when I forget to.  Birthdays are kind of the same thing, I want to wish you a happy birthday, I really do,  I just don't want the stress of trying to do better than "Happy Birthday!!".

3. Memes, I don't see them anymore.  No more pictures of kittens that say "I iz evilz" and no more old timey clip art with funny expressions about how vodka and bacon fix everything.  The best thing is I'll never see another "Try to name an erogenous zone without the letter A, it's harder than you think"  It's nipple and penis.

4. I have more Halo time.

5. I love to argue, so when I see an inflammatory statement I'm going to chime in.  The problem is that you can NEVER change someone's opinion about abortion, gun control, the death penalty, NASA, the existence of god, gay marriage or any other hot button issue because we're so polarized we don't even want to try to reach common ground.  So my wheels have stopped spinning.

6.  There are less and less temptations to be a dick.  There's also now zero temptation to "check in" from my bathroom.

7. There's a chance that if I'm out somewhere I might accidentally run into you.  What a great fucking
surprise!  You're out, minding your own business and POW!  There's me! Neither of us saw it coming.

Maybe those don't sound like great reasons but I like them.  I really enjoy Facebook, I even understand that it's a free service and I'm ok with them selling my info to advertisers, Facebook gotta eat.  It's fun to see what people are up to and the silly, witty, fun interactions with friends are great.  I think at the end of the day I'm a little more chill when I don't feel the need to be funny, smart or politically correct.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


So I hate people right now.  People make me want to say jerky things, make fun or just crack wise.  I've recently realized that although I would never take pride in it I'm kind of an asshole.  Usually I'm pretty funny and see the irony or just plain comedy in things and point it out in a way that makes people laugh, even at them selves.  It's kind of like a tic or OCD, I feel like I can't help it, when someone is exposed or vulnerable I strike.  Sometimes I go too far, especially when I'm out drinking and genuinely hurt someone or make them feel shitty about some part of themselves. 

I've recently left Facebook, too much temptation to be a dick, I look at people's cats, children or profile picture and want to make fun of them.  People don't like that.  So I'm gone for a while.  I genuinely want to be nicer, get my smart ass shit under control because honestly at this moment nobody would ever say "oh him?  he's a really nice guy".  I don't need accolades or sainthood, I'd just like to think that someone thinks I'm a good guy.

I'm a good parent, very supportive of my children, I do everything I can to build up their self esteem.  Why can't I treat the adults in my life with the same care, support and kindness.  Part of me thinks I should see a therapist, but what would I say?  I'm an ass and I'd like to stop?  I don't know if that would help at all.  I think I need to discipline myself to be more thoughtful of the impact of the stupid shit I say just to get a laugh.  I feel boring when I'm trying to be nice and I hate that.  

For now I'm just going to lie low and work on being nice, learn when to be quiet.  I think I'll still make fun of your dad jeans but probably not your weight.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

So you're middle aged and hitting the gym......

It's probably a New Year's resolution, a recent divorce, hair loss, a cute new secretary or a full blown mid life crisis, whatever it is I'm seeing a lot of middle aged men finding their way off of the sofa and into the gym. That's great. I applaud them but they have no idea what they're doing and they're either going to hurt themselves or someone else is going to hurt them. You can't just walk into a gym after forty sedentary years and decide to "pump some iron". You just can't. I'd like to offer some advice on getting started and some etiquette so everyone doesn't hate you.


The first thing you should do is shell out for a personal trainer for a week and get on a program. If you're too cheap to do that go online and find a good beginner weight training guide or even better pick up one of Joe Weider's books. Learn the proper form for the exercises you want to do because at our age you can GET HURT VERY EASILY. Nothing derails a new workout routine faster than an injury. Also learn the actual muscle groups you're going to be working, it's important.

A good way to start is by doing a chest/triceps/shoulder day, take a day off and then do a back and biceps day. Stretch and warm up a little before you start lifting, never start cold. I work my abs and do some squats every time I go to the gym, but I'm pretty lazy when it comes to my legs and a little obsessed with my abs.

Don't lift too much. Remember that you are old and can GET HURT VERY EASILY (this will be a recurring theme...) No one cares if you can only bench 100 pounds so don't worry about looking wimpy, it's better than a trip to the ER. You should lift about as much as you can for nine reps per set and do three sets of each exercise. Once you get comfortable and start to know your way around the gym you'll find that other lifters are pretty helpful and will "spot" you if you ask and give you guidance if you need it. That is, if you know some basic gym etiquette.


• It's not YOUR gym, it's everyones.
• Rack your weights. Don't be an ass and leave plates on all of the barbells and machines you use. Everyone will hate you.
• Don't drop your weights. If you're as strong as the massive slam your weights make says, you can take the extra step and lower the weights quietly.
• Wipe down the station you just used. No one wants to sit in a puddle of your sweat and they shouldn't have to clean up after you.
• No loud grunting. If you're really grunting like that you're lifting too much and can GET HURT VERY EASILY (there it is again!).
• Don't tie up a station doing something you're not supposed to. (Yes you, the dude who does his crunches on the weight bench, there are mats in the corner).
• Let people "work in". You can even spot each other and offer encouragement. Maybe you'll make a friend.
• Don't talk on your Bluetooth while you're lifting, and take those fucking sunglasses off. Are you kidding me?
• Don't stare at the young girls in tight spandex or tiny shorts, it makes you look like a pervert.
• Don't leave your crap sitting on benches or stations, no one wants to move your towel, keys, cell phone or water bottle. Most of this can go in a locker.

The most important thing to consider is that if it feels like a chore you should buy a bike or some running shoes because you're not going to keep doing something that you don't like.

When I first started lifting it was in my basement with a bargain weight set and bench from a discount store. I was sore all the time but I liked the way I started to look. I had a poster on the wall showing the proper form for each exercise. It was a great start but I soon outgrew it and started hitting the gym. Now I've been lifting on and off for about twenty years, I have a shoulder that hurts when I do presses and a knee that screams when I do squats but I'm in the gym three days a week for about an hour because I feel great.

And I'm a little vain....

Friday, October 15, 2010

Back To Work

So I haven't posted in forever. I no longer have the free time of an international man of leisure. I have a job. It's been about seven years since I stopped working as a designer for Verizon and started being a stay at home dad and I'm pretty happy to be working again. About a million years ago I helped turn a 45 year old stationary store in Chestnut Hill into a destination toy store: no easy feat. Now I'm back, and I really love it. Gone are the empty hours during the day that I tried to fill with housework and other "fulfilling" activities, gone is the forced smalltalk of the play date, gone are the cliquey moms at the playground. Eat my dust.

I never realized how much time I spent trying to convince myself that being a stay at home dad was fulfilling until I started working and had blissfully little time to think about anything. Truth be told, there's no real fulfillment in being a stay at home parent, it's great to be around for your kids and all, but mostly it's tedious. No wonder so many stay at home moms drink. And some do drink, even on play dates and during birthday parties. No one on the face of the earth can begrudge them that, there's only so much "look at me! look at this! see my gum? see it?" you can take without having something to help you avoid a voluntary lobotomy.

I'm only working about 23 hours a week, but I'm buying toys, merchandising toys and marketing toys and events. What's not to like? I'm still on dad duty during the week, breakfast, clothes, pack lunches out the door, pick the kids up, meet buses and make dinner. In between I get to have work, doing something I like with people over the age of seven. My kids are great and I love them but ALL kids can be a giant pain in the ass if your exposure levels are too high. It's in their nature; they're narcissists and all narcissists are annoying. Toy reps and customers can be a pain in the ass but I'm not required to love them, wipe their noses or fawn over their every doodle.

Some people truly love staying home with their kids and I have the highest respect for them but I really don't know how they keep it together. Seven years almost killed me. I feel like Papillon floating away on his coconut raft.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A few words about multiple sclerosis

It fucking blows. I actually have a few more words about MS. I've had it for a little over 20 years and for the most part have been in the "closet" about it. When I was 23 I went to a New Years Eve party at a nice hotel with friends, drank a lot of booze and did some drugs. The next morning I was numb in all of my extremities and tripping over my tongue. I went to the ER and they told me I was drunk. Fair enough. Within a week my entire right side was paralyzed and I was in the hospital for a week. I was eventually diagnosed as having had a stroke and accepted that. As freakish as it is to have a stroke at 23 it was a hell of a lot better than the alternatives.

Over the next few years I started taking better care of myself. I quit smoking, started eating healthier and started running. I kept running for about seven years, even finished a half marathon. The whole time I had bizarre symptoms, numb fingers, double vision, toe paralysis. I'm not a fucking idiot - I knew I had MS but I just didn't want the confirmation. By the time I was 30 I was tired all the time, having regular flare ups, and a fiance who wanted to know what was happening and what it meant for our future. Looking back I can see that I was being selfish by hiding from the diagnosis - giving myself short term comfort instead of a long term plan.

Finally at around the age of thirty I decided to get diagnosed and see if there was anything I could do about the flare ups and the fatigue. Diagnosis means a spinal tap, which is pretty scary just to imagine. I lay on a cold gurney in a hospital hallway I watched the doctor prepare the six inch needle she was about to insert into my spine thinking "this is what it means to be sick". Oona drove me home, lying in the back of our crappy car flinching with every turn and imaging the air bubble travelling up my spine to my brain and killing me. We waited a week to find out, me in Mt. Airy and Oona in Ohio where she'd had to go for work. I went into the office and was told what I already knew. Already knowing didn't change the crushing sadness. My neurologist then listed all of the possible diagnosis that were so much worse that I didn't have - lupus, brain tumor - which was nice but didn't help at all. Thankfully she was able to tell me that with the history of my symptoms she was confident that I had relapsing remitting MS - which is exactly what it sounds like. As far as MS diagnoses go, RRMS is the best case and most common. Small comfort at the time. She told me about all of her success stories like the 80 year old guy who takes boy scouts camping. She did her best to buoy me but I felt like I was experiencing every single symptom I'd ever had right at that moment.

I started doing research into the disease, and reading every book I could get my hands on. I'd mark this as the biggest mistake I ever made. I became convinced that I'd never live a normal life. I was certain to end up bed-ridden or at the very least in a wheelchair. I knew - without a doubt - that my life was over. I sank into a pretty major depression while treating the MS through mainstream medicine.

Treatment for MS means one of three medicines, all of which you have to inject subcutaneously (right below the skin). I used a drug called Copaxone for a few years and was still having flare ups on top of getting to stick a needle in my leg every day. The flare ups meant an intravenous course of steroids over three days with varying degrees of success. MS sucks and it costs a shit load of money. It was beginning to feel like voodoo because none of the medications changed anything - the point of them is to hold the MS at bay and to keep it from getting worse, not fixing what's already wrong.

I decided to go off the grid, stop thinking about MS, stop talking about MS and stay away from people with MS. Crazy right? Apparently not. Over the last seven years I've had two flare ups and bounced back fairly well from both. I think it helps that I slowed my life down a little by staying home with the kids instead of working full time. Yes, I know how lucky I am to be able to do that.

The thing with MS is that it's different for everyone, like a snowflake, a shitty, shitty snowflake. For some like me it's mostly an annoyance. I get very tired sometimes and the roulette wheel of symptoms is hard to live with because you can never prepare. For others it's a nightmare, a slow descent into a wheelchair or worse. The bottom line is that you can have a major effect on the course of your MS. A positive attitude, exercise, diet and enough rest can do a lot in addition to or independent of a medical course of treatment.

One piece of advice to the recently diagnosed- stay away from the literature and "medical" websites, they paint a bleak worst-case scenario and will scare the living shit out of you. Stay positive and don't be afraid to try things even if they're something people with MS shouldn't be able to do. Since my diagnosis I've run 5ks, danced at weddings (drunk), hiked up and down mountains, played street hockey, freeze tag, soccer - you name the kid game I've played it.

Just keep moving and living. If you have to take a knee people will understand.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


So I'm staring down the barrel of my 44th birthday, past middle age and cruising towards death. I feel like all that's left is trying to not be a hairy eared old man telling the same anecdotes over and over again. I don't want to become totally irrelevant. Let's face it, the only old men who aren't irrelevant are the very smart, the very rich or the very funny. I'm kind of funny but mostly I'm fucked.

I decided to do a little research - looking into what successful people were doing at 44. But what fields of success to look at? Honestly I'm a pretty shallow person so philosophers, writers, scientists and political figures were out of the question. That pretty much left celebrities.

When researching celebrities at 44 do NOT look at rock stars; you will start looking for a building tall enough to jump out of without the risk of just getting paralyzed. Mick Jagger? Dirty Work. Sure it went platinum but it sucked platinum ass. Pete Townshend? The Iron Man Musical, hated by grownups and children alike. (ok, I'm Not Going To Run Anymore was good) David Bowie? Two words - Tin Machine. Springsteen released two albums on the same day, Lucky Town and Human Touch, both were universally ignored so they just stuck him in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to distract him. Lou Reed? Became a Honda Spokesman and performed at Farm Aid to a generously luke warm reception. So where to look? Professional athletes? F-that, you get hailed as an iron man for being able to walk after 40.

I realized that what I was looking for wasn't about accomplishments or notoriety, it was about the half way point actually being half way. I was looking for hope that there was more to come, perhaps even something fun or exciting. So I looked to the people I know could give me hope - A-list Hollywood actors.

At the age of 44 Paul Newman had just released Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. He still had The Sting, Slap Shot and The Verdict ahead of him. At 44 Clint Eastwood released High Plains Drifter which he directed and starred in, still ahead for Clint? Four Dirty Harry movies, Escape From Alcatraz and The Unforgiven which brought him his first Oscar at the age of 64. Max Von Sydow did the Exorcist at 44 and would go on to appear in almost 90 more movies.

At 44 Samuel L. Jackson was still a year away from the release of Pulp Fiction, Viggo Mortenson was Aragorn in The Fellowship of the Ring. Although both had been around for a while many would cite these films as career breakouts. Hope! There it was. Yes, I know that I'm just another schlub who won't do anything spectacular. I'm cool with that. It's not about fame or fortune, it's about how these guys kept going into middle age or reinvented their careers. I just need to find a spark to do something interesting or fun with the second half of my life.

NOTE- All celebrity ages at time of said accomplishments are guesstimates based on birthdays and release dates. Could be way off so don't quote me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

a word about stay at home dads

Today was "Camp Olympics" day: children dressed all in either green or blue while the parents wore the same color as their child to show support. In a line of about twenty cars there is one car wrapped in green crepe paper with green balloons and a giant "Green rocks!!!" sign in the back window. When I see this kind of "look at what a great parent I am" behavior, the sexist in me thinks it's a bored housewife looking for something to talk about. When the car rounded a curve I was shocked to see a dude, a dude wearing douche-bag wrap around sunglasses trying to ruin shit for other stay at home dads.

Since I've been a S.A.D. for the last seven years it's been great to see our numbers swell, it's a sign that the lines that shouldn't even exist are getting blurred. Women who would rather have a career now have an option other than daycare, fathers now have an chance to be a bigger part of their children's lives and men who have been laid off or downsized to feel less emasculated and know that they're providing a valuable service to their family. So why are some dads trying to fuck this up?

Gentlemen, we stand at a great turning point in American cultural history. We can shape the future of the stay at home dad. So no more fucking baby talk! No more rolling luggage bags full of supplies for a trip to the playground! STOP OVERCOMPENSATING!!!!! Kick back and watch how the moms do it, they've got a cultural collective of experience and know how it's done. I can't believe I'm saying we need to look to the housewife to learn to be cool but we do. They pack exactly what they need, no more, no less. They praise and discipline their children without being all up in their grill -- and in a normal voice, they talk to other adults or read and apply sunblock. Mission accomplished.

Almost every stay at home dad I see at the pool or playground is overly engaged in "playing" with their kids. Not only is this annoying to watch, it robs your kids of the opportunity to meet and play with other kids. And speaking in a high pitched voice doesn't bridge some sort of communications gap with your child -- it just makes you sound like a guy who's trying to do a hilarious "gay" voice at a party. Stop it. When you sit in the kiddy pool splashing with your five year old you look more like a pedophile than a good dad. So knock it the hell off, talk to a grown up, read a book or play solitaire on your phone, look up when they yell "hey dad" and wave or give a thumbs up, if they need a push on the swings go do it, but if you start swinging on the seat next to theirs I swear to god I will KILL you. Seriously, I will do it.