Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Snow Angels

It's a custom among we dead baby parents to share mementos in honor of one another's children. So my wife went out into our untouched snow and wrote the names of Joel and other children we have come to know of through our DB-family.
After posting pics, she noted if any were missing, to please let her know.
Her friend, with two living children, asked to have her kids added.

We immediately called the police.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a joke. Well, the snow pictures aren't. She really made them and they are really sweet.

As for the joke, it may be the only one I've written yet with a clear punchline. This concerns me since my "light" I spoke of in the last blog entry so long ago was that I have finally taken the plunge and started trying to work open mic nights at the local comedy club. So far I have only performed once, and I wasn't boo'ed off stage, so I guess thats a good sign.

Don't worry though, I'm not taking the dead baby stuff to the stage. Don't think I'm quite funny enough to bring 'em back from such a serious topic. But who knows, maybe one day?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This little light of mine

Shakespeare told us that conscience makes cowards of us all -- fear of what comes after death makes us stay and suffer those oft-mentioned slings and arrows of life.

Joel does not know that fear. He has dreamt in the warmth of the womb and moved on to dream the dreams that we can never share.

I found this, today, in a notebook I tried to keep all sorts of thoughts in, particularly those occurring in the days and weeks immediately following Joel's death.

Originally, it was the notebook I used to try and brainstorm jokes and bits for that pipe dream day where I try and do stand-up. Honestly, the material was pretty crappy.

But I made a promise to... the air, I made a promise that I would try and be more productive in my life; that I would do stuff. And that is what lead me back to that notebook tonight, and to my own words -- well, my theft of and blending with Shakespeare's words (but what does his dead ass care?)-- my words that gave me some level of comfort. I went back to look at those unfortunately useless jokes because I'm going to do something.

I will fail. This is practically guaranteed. But I've got promises to keep.

On October 15th, I'll be shining a light for Joel and all the other babies that never got a chance to dodge those slings and arrows. I hope you will join us, and if you have a baby you had to say goodbye to too soon, I will be thinking of you, whether we know each other or not.

A few days later, I'll try this thing I'm talking about. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


This is not the post I started with this morning, but comparing apples and oranges must wait for another time.

It is International Babylost Father's Day.

Sorry, but I do prefer Dead Baby Daddy Day. It is a bit more on the nose, and sounds less like I'm supposed to find Joel alongside my lost set of keys. (although I too am guilty of having said "when we lost Joel")

Plus, lets be honest, it sounds like the Baby-Daddy is dead, and if I had to choose...

So for all the other dads and families that struggle with the terminology of their child's short life: I hope it was at least a peaceful day.

Remember them well.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pride before the Fall / The Sound of Silence

Bill Maher's "Religulous" points out all the bad that has come of religion: the wars, the abuse, the enslavements, and the crazy extremists of all sides. He points this out as an argument for the dissolution of religion. Get rid of religion, get rid of the problem.

I agree that religion has brought about a lot of pain, but I think if we dropped it, the crazies would replace it with something else. Pride is a powerful thing and people are always going to try and find a way to say their group is better than another. Some of us find "healthy outlets" for this, like sports or other hobbies (certainly not absent of crazies).

The wild thing is that all these major world religions teach the same basic moral principles: be good to one another -- no matter who it is; don't fuck things up.


But then like a game of Monopoly where someone lost the rules sheet, everyone gets caught up arguing the fine details, eventually demonizing anyone who disagrees on what the hell happens when you land on Free Parking.

People who argue over the rules like this are missing the point. See, they're trying to win the game, but the point is not to win the game, but to enjoy it. Nine years ago we here in the United States were reminded just what can happen when people get too caught up in winning the game.

This is my 9/11 story, which I share with my students each year. I do share with them for several reasons: to show I write too, to talk about description, and because each year fewer and fewer of them have any memory of that day.

Now I don't have a "where were you when..." story. Truth is, I was in bed trying to decide if I wanted to go to my college speech class that morning. I told my mom, "that stuff happens all the time" when she said a plane had crashed into the first tower. I figured it was just a small commuter plane. She had me up and out of bed in time to see the second plane live as it happened. But we all had some form of that experience.

My story happens about 6 weeks later in mid-November of 2001. I was on a Model U.N. trip up to Montreal, Quebec, Canada (in case you were thinking of the other Montreal) and we stopped for 3 days in New York City; my first time to New York.

New York had been the backdrop for everything I ever thought was cool, so being there was mind-blowing for me and I followed our little group through the city only halfway paying attention to what we were doing or where we were going; I was too busy takingeverything in. Not just the sights, but the overwhelming sounds. The constant hum of bustling people talking away as they rush down city streets; street vendors calling out,

"hot dogs!" "You lookin' for a good time
"We've got the lowest.." "Need a watch?"
"Live nudes!" "check out my improv group!"

Not to mention the cabs honking and rushing and screeching to a halt; folks whistling for cabs and the cabbies cursing one another in seven different languages. The construction and the machinery, the music pouring form stores and Times Square advertisements; crosswalks and policemen...

The city was alive with sound and while I'd heard about it before, it was nothing I'd ever experienced. So there I was, lost in amazement, and following along toward the back of my group. I know I was talking with someone during all of this, but I honestly can't remember who; I'm sure it varied. But I remember as we rode the subway to our next destination, I noticed our car getting more and more roomy, which seemed especially odd on a New York afternoon.

When we stepped off onto the platform, it was nearly empty and there was a noticeable lack of chatter. As we climbed the stairs into the sunlight, everyone in our group fell silent and something felt off.

We turned right coming out of the subway, heading out to the next street, and I remember seeing a cab drive by, slowly, without making a sound.

As we approached the intersection, I observed the usual throngs of people making their way down the opposing sidewalk, along with the cabs and the bicycle messengers, but without all the sound. Standing there amongst the office buildings, the taxis and the business men, New York was silent.

I turned to my right, and I realized where this deafening silence originated from as I found myself standing at one end of a city block of makeshift memorials. I understand now that there was still dust in the air, even six weeks later, and maybe that explains it, but I know I've since breathed air so thick; it was as if the silence itself held weight, and I suppose it did.

A wall of blue stretched almost as far as I could see, blocking any direct view of Ground Zero. But on that blue lay flowers, posters, notes and pleas: "If you find my husband...", "If you find my daughter...", " child..." A small, dusty and damaged bicycle set leaning against a lamp-post, the story of a young boy who delivered food from his parents' restaurant attached to it...

We looked at those memorials for what seemed like hours, but above all what I remember is the silence. The power of that event to, still six weeks later, bring silence to the city that never sleeps.

May all those who died that day find peace in the Universe. May all of us.

Monday, September 6, 2010

still kickin

Sharing some quasi-random thoughts...

I am taking a class about teaching writing; in such classes they make you do a lot of writing from all these brainstorming activities that you can then transfer to your own classroom. This is kinda cool, and I've done such things before (which I'd previously looked to post here, but realized I've lost the digital copies in the course of my various computers/accounts) On top of that, I'm already working with a new group of students on writing activities, and I'm realizing one thing: every brainstorming activity that I participate in, I'm having to edit myself heavily. I don't just mean skipping my drinking days, or any other nefarious endeavors, but not talking about Joel. Not that discussing my personal life with 14 year olds is a priority in my life, but it is a bit difficult when trying to model these activities, and "think aloud" when the eye of every storm is a topic that would, amongst other things, steal everyone else's thunder.
As for my class, I already put it out there in my introductory bio, so they can just deal with it if I keep heading to that same well all semester long. Not going to that well for the purpose of this blog is just an issue of motivation and time. When I say motivation it is more along the lines of motivation to silently push myself through those experiences again when I'm doing so well at immersing myself in pop-culture and work to the point of total distraction and lack of introspection. (okay...I'm kinda lying when I say I'm immersed in work...)

but hey, maybe I'll have some fresh material soon.

I should change the "would be alcoholic" part of my bio...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Restless Spirit

I'll just be honest here: I've spent what I feel like is a whole helluva lot of time helping Jules sleep. He is a restless kid, always has been.

In the hospital, just hours into the light and the pollution, his eyes held focus on everything. It was the general comment from all his onlookers: "he's so...aware." Aware. Always noticing things going on, even when all he could do was wake up or squirm in response. Noise he never seemed to mind (except our voices or the animals), but light, commotion; these things stirred him.

He never slept in the car; he was either content or cried. And by cried I mean wailed; torturous cries that made you think something horrible was happening back there. He was persistent in these cries. Unrelenting and inconsolable; no pacifiers, no bottles, no songs or rubs: just get me the fuck out. It was this way until past his fist birthday, really.

A sleep schedule? Only in the past few months have we established something resembling a sleep schedule. On average he takes an hour to bed down without being held and rocked. He tends to just keep going: tapping fingers, rubbing legs, fiddling with his hair (many a late, late night I've wanted to shave that pretty little head) or, my favorite, just sitting straight up as I do my best Splinter Cell out of the room, even after he fails to respond after I raise his arm the third time, and THEN slowly count to 60 to make sure he is out cold.

Before he was a person -- you know, back when he was just a squirming mass of cute and chub, sucking in as much formula and information as possible -- getting him to sleep required this ridiculous amount of stimulation: patting, rubbing, walking, bouncing. I developed what I came to call my Rastafarian dance; this long-strided bounce paired with deep toned humming of song while patting and rubbing my easily bored offspring. It was the only thing that ever would get him to sleep in less than 20 minutes. Seriously, he could be dead tired, and still to this day, when the lights go out for bed, he's awake.

On average -- even now, with his willingness to go to bed, and a two storybook a night habit -- he takes about an hour to get to sleep. I don't mind it. It has certainly become easier. And he's sweet about it all.

He still hates the state of being asleep though -- or maybe its the state of grogginess that he hates: if he moves towards conciousness at all, he becomes pretty upset (something else we've slowly worked on). He'll cry out, or lumber into the hall, "Daddy hol' me". Yeah, its pretty damned heart melting.

Thing is, this is all preface. This is not what I wanted to write about. I wanted to write about tonight's storm. One of those classic, summer night, thunder and lightning extravaganzas. Rumbles as if Great Cthulhu were rising and flashes so bright you can't help but to get the feeling stepping into their light would reveal some truth of the soul. Yes, the kind of storm that makes you get all crazy on adjective porn.

Whatever it is in me that wants to stand in the rain felt especially strong tonight. Like there were layers of filth that needed not only to be washed off, but burned away in the blinding spark of that summer lightning. I guess you could say there's something a bit wild to it; something primal.

"Daddy hol' me"

and like that, I don't need the lightning, or the thunder, or that swell of ancient Viking spirit to reveal any truth to me. The dirts still there, perhaps somethings buried inside, but for now, I'm good. Very good.

Guess that's what 'Daddy' is all about.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


It's an interesting phenomenon of my brain that when I am required to write something (read: grad school, lesson plans, etc.) I become greatly in-tune with the great truths of the world. More specifically, the great truths that have absolutely nothing to do with what I am supposed to be doing.

As such, I have plenty of bloggy thoughts right now, but I have to be somewhere else, typing for even fewer people than I do here (if you can believe that).

For one thing, I've found the urge to finally do the most obvious thing for this blog that I have somehow failed to do up to this point: recall the days and moments surrounding Joel's death. No promise on when that will be posted, but it is coming. Definitely over the course of a few entries.

I'm also going to finally post something I mentioned a long-ass time ago. It's a little thing that rattles around in the back of my head; the synopsis for a comic (or something) that my wife and I came up with. "Action 8" Imagine your quirky ass local news team. Now imagine they have to cover shit like zombies and alien invasions. I dunno, we just wanted to make up passive-aggressive conversations between Tony Cavalier and Tim Irr.

Yes, we're odd.

Monday, July 12, 2010

blog stats

...who the hell lives in Tazewell, Va?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Birthday!

With my birthday coming up, I had been thinking quite a bit about my family. Not just my wife and boys, but my parents and extended family. As usually seems to be the case when I feel bad about things with my family, someone stepped up to make me feel a little better...well, at least justified.

This is a facebook exchange I had on my birthday.

Some required backstory: "Auntie P", a childhood favorite, has sent me a few messages on holidays, but I hadn't responded for reasons ranging from: "I'm too sad for this" to "how are you nice to me and shitty to my wife?" to "...just waiting for you to talk about what I want to talk about..."

I haven't edited anything but names.

and ooooooh, a link to my facebook. Screw it, I'll leave it.

Auntie P July 5 at 12:43pm Report
Happy Birthday to you!! Even tho you no love me no more....I still love you!!! Hope you have a great day...what are you 50?
Me July 5 at 1:40pm
Thank you, and I do still love you. The thing is that there are things that have never been said that maybe should have been. And I don't like that I get sent nice, happy messages, when at the same time my wife receives not-very-nice messages, or anonymous messages about me not replying to Christmas greetings, as if it had anything to do with her. It's two-faced, and I don't like it.

and if anyone really gave a damn about how I actually feel, they would've sent a message on May 28th AND they would've apologized for enabling their bastard brother being such a worthless piece of garbage for so many years (Steve laughing at my wife at Joel's funeral and mocking his death in a subsequent email)

I read over your Christmas message several times because it gave me joy to know B and R are doing so well, but the fact is I was really too sad to respond on what should've been my second son's first Christmas.

So yeah, I have a lot of hurt feelings and confounding thoughts in regard to family right now and really, until my son gets some acknowledgement, or I at least get a "yes, steve really is a piece of shit and theres no excuse for it" I really don't have much to say to anyone, despite how much they may try to make themselves feel better by sending me messages.

I love you, I truly do, and I wish you and your boys, and the rest of our family, only the best because you have been nothing but wonderful to me my whole life, but none of that excuses the past year.

Auntie P July 5 at 3:43pm Report
what happened on May 28th? I have my own "BEEF" with members of the fam. but have learned to live and let live...guess it's easier that way for me. I understand alot of your frustrations but I exiled myself from my mom for over a year and in the end it just hurts more looking back. I pray for you all...including baby Joel. I can't even imagine your pain at his loss and I want you to know that he is a part of ME too!! Please tell Kyle Julian about me and his cousins. I love that little fella even though I have never seen him.
Me July 5 at 5:17pm
Joel was born on May 28th, and clearly if you think ignoring the existence of a child, and mocking his death is something to "live and let live" well then you are correct, you cannot imagine our pain. I think we are done here.

What happend on May 28th? Really?? You couldn't GUESS? Ah well, let's just keep on not talking about it.

Sorry, but I'm just not going to soil his memory by forgiving anything without a little show of remorse. And damn, now that I've said that in a public forum, it suddenly becomes more difficult for me to acknowledge an apology. Oh the games we play...

but seriously, it's been a good birthday.

Friday, July 2, 2010

ah, dammit! Cut that out!

No one ever told me that being in the DB club makes you an asshole to your next kid.

Every time he is sleeping quietly for more than five minutes, I poke him.

"Hey. pssst, hey. You alive?"

"bluurgle *squeeak* aaahh"


(yes, babies sound like tires deflating in mud.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ask a DB Dad: Why does God have big, clumsy feet?

**Note: I've been dancing around getting this written for what seems like an eternity, my apologies to any of you who may have been waiting for it.

Sometimes the "grace of God" ain't so graceful...

off topic observation: usage of the word ain't to create a playful tone. Is that indirectly mocking those that use ain't in normal speech?

which reminds me that I need to re-teach some students that in (or just n) is not the correct spelling of and.

moving on...

Being in the unfortunate position of having a dead child, one quickly discovers that most people have no idea what to say to you. In that case, they turn to religion. Okay, so perhaps that is a gross generalization, but living in the upper portion of the Bible b elt it is a pretty good one. So let's keep in mind that I know a lot of what I am saying is based on generalization because otherwise I'm going to be here all day covering a gazillion bases.

It was what should have been Joel's first holiday season; obviously, we were a little down. You'll find holidays are just another part of the year where you spend extra time remembering your child, which just makes everyone else not remembering sting so much more. (for more on this subject, read every DB blog out there)
I was actually a little hopeful when we received a package, a gift for our first son, from a family member.

I'll save the family issues for now, but its worth noting that this family member has suffered a loss as well; a miscarriage. Of course, at the time, the family directive I received was to not speak of it. When news of Joel's death hit the wire, this person was one of the first to call and she offered to talk since she'd been through something similar. We really appreciated that, even though we never took her up on the offer; we just weren't ready to talk to someone just yet.
So yeah, the package. Included was a card; a religious card. Now I never received any Muslim words of comfort, or Jewish or Hindi (at least I don't think so...) so I can't say what kind of stuff they might say, but I know Christianity is always good for throwing out some quotes without a whole lot of thought for how they'll be read (how did it take me this long to get to my thesis??).

Of the card in question, it is long gone at the time I'm finally writing this, so an exact quote I cannot give. The basic idea, however, was letting the Lord take our earthly sorrows, although I occasionally remember it as "small, earthly troubles". Thing is, we only had one earthly sorrow, which we didn't find to be small at all, we certainly didn't consider it merely 'earthly', and, to be perfectly honest, we already had a bit of a bone to pick with the guy that was supposed to make it better!

I know what the sentiment was, but the words, they just weren't right. Kind of like, "you're child is in the arms of Jesus" Well thanks Jesus, but I'd prefer to be holding him; I'm not keen on strangers holding my baby, and no offense, but they didn't have a lot of Purell in Nazareth, so if you would be so kind...

"God works in mysterious ways" What? like Batman? Sorry, even Batman wouldn't kill my baby.

Now it isn't that I'm some angry Atheist or just mad at God or something. In fact, I understand and believe that religion can be quite a comfort. The thing is, religion is just like the rest of the world: it can be good or bad, depending on how you use it.

I certainly like to believe that everyone who misspoke or did something to add salt to our wound had the best of intentions. However, it is undeniable, and probably unavoidable, that there are a great and many things that occur once you enter the DB-parent club that send the message, "hurry up and get the fuck over it." Or there are the dismissive items, like the card in the gift. My apologies to Anonymous, but sometimes the thought just doesn't count; sometimes shitty gifts/words are just plain shitty.

Some of the people who comforted us most did not throw scripture at us, they simply "walked the walk" and acted like good Christians, which, believe it or not, is the same way a good Muslim, Jew, Hindi (...I think), or any other religion (Pastafarians included) would behave: they were nice to us. The real 'grace' came from the kindness of the people we were around. Those that found ways to comfort us and show their care sometimes by doing nothing more than acknowledging our pain and offering to be there, or just being respectful.

One may choose to believe that scripture is the absolute Word of God, and they have that right, but words are still words, with multiple definitions, connotations, interpretations and other -ations. So if you find yourself in the unenviable position of needing to comfort a grieving parent, maybe, just maybe, it is better to follow the instructions instead of trying to hand them out.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Quest: epilogue

A little something a friend did for us.
A bright and lively reminder of our boy.

Chronicling our efforts to get back in the baby-making game both emotionally and physically (read: vasectomy reversal tag) after Joel's death. It is an odd and difficult thing processing this completely unplanned path. I've read plenty of personal accounts from other DB parents who have taken that step. No one ever regrets it (no shit. really, Sherlock?) but everyone has their own way of coming to terms with that quirky reality of "this is the child I'm having because my other child died".

I've covered all that before and I feel like I summed myself up pretty well in The Road. Personally, I felt like that post was the perfect end to The Quest, but I felt like it needed a couple more notes before we 'move on'(hence "epilogue").

First of all, as lame and superficial as it is, you've probably noticed a new layout and color scheme. Fact is, the old layout was, well, bringing me down. I felt obligated to write something quasi-deep and solemn. Okay, so maybe the blog layout wasn't really behind how I had twisted the purpose of the blog in my head, but it certainly reflected and encouraged it!

Joel certainly has some powerfully difficult memories attached to him, but pretty early on I decided that was not how I would remember him. He would be celebrated, and I would do my best to extend the joy and excitement he brought us, while, you know, still being fucking sad.

Somewhere along the way I got turned around, feeling a bit like the joy of ending our Quest was counter-intuitive to what this blog "should be": a shrine to Joel. But the gnashing of teeth, tearing of clothes and wallowing in ash Old Testament style was in no way honoring him. Life honors Joel. Love honors Joel. And in the end, I started the blog on a promise to him that I'd be productive, that I'd keep writing, for better or worse (yeah, yeah, I've already acknowledged that a blog is a real lame-ass way to "be productive", but Michaelangelo I ain't).

So, a new layout, and a little less focus on "am I accurately reflecting the shit storm that is my soul in the wake of my son's death", and, more importantly, a new baby.

Prepare for the cute.

A little hairy...and a little like Kevin Spacey (not a bad thing).

Thanks to Valarie for the pics.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

I like to think I always took the time to let my father (and my mother) know how much I appreciated all he did for me growing up. He really was a good dad.

So now, when I don't call or write, I hope he knows it isn't because I don't appreciate how I wast raised and who raised me, or that I've forgotten all those things. It is just that those things don't buy you a free pass.

I try to keep that in mind as I raise my boys. I am not infallible. I am not the wisest. I can apologize.

To all the men out there who inspire the young fellas to try and grow up to be decent human beings, you deserve a nod today.

To the fathers of my life: thank you for everything.

And to my fellows who hold a candle for the children that left us too soon: you know what fatherhood is, you live it every day; this is your day too. You are not forgotten and neither are your children.

Now let's all go eat some meat, have a beer and do lots of other stereotypical guy stuff in honor of ourselves.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I got a bracelet

She did all the difficult stuff, so I'll just let her tell you. :)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hungry Geller

Something very odd happened last May.

No, not my son dying in the womb, at a full 40 weeks, although that was a different and devastating occurrence.

No, not my family being... um... shitty. While also odd, it wasn't completely unexplained.

No, before all these things, I inexplicably lost 20 lbs. One day while I was vainly making faces in the mirror (also not an uncommon event), I noticed that I appeared to have increased in rugged handsomeness. I hopped on the scale, and much to my fast food eating surprise, I'd dropped 20 lbs!

Not long after this, we lost Joel.

Once I regained my appetite, I found solace in food. And once we were both ready and willing to go out in public again, it was food and drink...and drink... and occasionally another drink. Honestly, it had been two or three years since I had really drank, so I'd expected my tolerance to have fallen. I have to say that fortunately, it had not (my wife may disagree with this).

As you may guess, the magical 20 lbs came right back. It was as if my psychic-belly had foreseen a need for emotional eating on the horizon. So this year, as May 26-28 lay on the horizon, I started making an effort to lose a little weight. I don't think I was consciously prepping for these dates, but I certainly felt an urge to lose a bit (not that it isn't needed anyway).

The point of this entry? I really want a pizza. A greasy, cheesy pizza that I can gorge on while working my shadow into a permanent design on the couch. Maybe some Doritos too.

Yes, Wife, I know. Pizza is on the 'no-no' list this pregnancy. Which leads to one more reason I'm excited for Blair to get here. :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daddy Moment

One year ago, yesterday, May 26th, we found out that Joel, our son, would never cry to us for comfort, never stare into our souls with wide, wondering eyes, never squeeze our fingers with his small, searching grasp; our son, still cradled lovingly in my wife's womb, had died.

I remember thinking of him as a rambunctious child. He seemed to make it a point to startle his mother with oddly-timed and placed kicks and pinches in utero. I remember her crying out in the bath one night; Joel had apparently dropkicked her spleen. She was laughing; I was enamored, watching the water tremor, and even splash a little, from the force of his kicks. That night we knew we had one special little man on the way.

After he was born, one year ago tomorrow, May 28th, still and beautiful, with a head of hair you wouldn't believe; perfect in every way but the most important, I accompanied one of the nurses to take his picture. It was my one moment where I got to do a real "parent thing": adjusting his little cap, tucking his blanket up around him - just grooming him for his perfect portrait. (It HAD to be perfect)

Thank you, Joel, for the comforts and joys you've brought us; the way you've touched our souls and forever left your print on our hearts.

Happy Birthday, little bud.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

...and here we are.

Two minutes until the day I've dreaded for months. A day that is a complete mystery to me. I don't know what I will feel, or how I will react to anything.

Not surprisingly, fate has piled up an extra helping of 'every day life' with a career fair at work (at which I will speak on my brief career in radio) and the first meeting of what I had thought was an online hour down the road.

So I have plenty to do on this day; plenty to keep me busy while my heart and my mind are focused on the one year mark.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Introspection wears thin and I find myself just wanting to slip further and further into distraction.

The one year mark is fast approaching and as of right now I think my plan is to crawl up into this patch of brush in the backyard, into this spot where the branches and the briers form a little cave. I'll just curl up there in the leaves and the dirt and

Maybe, there in my little Dagobah, I'll face down whatever it is that has me feeling much more comfortable in the emotional ambiguity of Internet time-wasters and news stories.

That, however, would be quite unfair to my wife, so maybe instead I'll set that camo tarp on fire.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Top Five

Over Spring Break, I built a swingset. Now, if you know my wife, you probably understand that this was not going to be your average, metal swingset that we all grew up on. Now, neither of us have a problem with the metal swingsets. In fact, I have many fond memories of playing on my friends'. I remember it like it was yesterday...

Listening to the creaking joints as my friend and I sat face to face, almost uncomfortably so, on the teeter-totter swing of doom. Rust sprinkling down on us as the motion made the two-person swing slowly work its way lower as if it were the device of choice from The Pit and the Pendulum. And lets not forget that sudden rush of fear as someone swung too high, or leaned back too far on the slide steps, bringing the whole set down like a renegade ferris wheel. Oh, and lets not forget washing the rust off my hands before heading inside.

Personally I think imminent danger is a selling point for the traditional swingset, adding an additional element of fun in the minds of every boy on the planet. Luckily, we also like big, wooden castles. So when my wife decided that we should buy a large, wooden swingset (w/ slides, platforms, and...labor), I thought, "cool." Refreshingly, she showed some concern about what kind we should buy, wondering if we should "start small", to which I replied (puffing out my chest), "go big, or go home."

I should've gone home. I worked on this thing nearly every day of my Spring Break, and still have a few small items to fix or add. Still, I'm proud of my accomplishment (the amusing story of its construction has been copyrighted by my wife, so it will be showing up at her blog).

But who is not proud of it? My neighbor.

Now maybe she didn't realize what my wife was explaining to her when it was all explained beforehand. Or maybe she just didn't think it would be as big as it is. Regardless, it is only her reaction that I really care about, and only because besides being an aggravation (and embarrassment), it's pretty damn funny.

Yes, she put up a tarp.

The BEST part of this, however, is what she did after she realized her tarp wasn't quite big enough. She replaced it with...

wait for it...


Actually, like 7 panels of Camo. Classy, all-American Camo.

At this point outrage has been taken over by sheer amusement at just how ridiculous this is. So what does one DO about 60 feet of Camo tarp bordering your backyard?

Well, I made a top 5 list (would go for 10, but I ran out of props)

5. Inspirational setting to pledge your love....
to Rambo: First Blood

4. BUBBA!!
...what? This doesn't scream "Forrest Gump" to you?
Just be impressed with the Pee-Wee toys.

3. "The first casualty of war
is innocence."
"Platoon" ...*sigh* I really love that movie.
Fozzy as Willem Dafoe is a stroke of genius, if you ask me.
Think what you will of my casting of Disney Characters as the Viet Cong.

2. Pretend you are on the set of M.A.S.H.
Jules studied for his part for days...

1. Film YouTube messages for your Anti-Government Militia.

Digs at the truth more than any of this other works

Yup, we're still surviving.

I'll keep ya posted on the camo developments...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Danny Trejo in my pants.

Danny Trejo
(that guy you recognize from movies, but didn't have a name for)

April 16th, 2009 was a big day in the history of my testicles. Yes, thats right, we're talking about "the scarred ones" again (see Danny Trejo reference) Now if you are new here (*snicker* okay, I realize that would require a growing readership, but bear with me) you may have to go back and do some backlog reading. [check The Quest sidebar]

See, before I entered the DB world, I was under the impression that generally after a certain point in a pregnancy, you were "safe" (cue the omniscient laughter). So on April 16th I went in for what I thought would be the beginning of an entertaining adventure of pain meds and frozen peas: my vasectomy. Since we literally found out about Joel's kidney problems the very next day, the vasectomy story is now only full of bitterly sick irony for me.

BUT in the spirit of commemoration, I give you not the story of the vasectomy, but the vasectomy reversal. Enjoy the link-y goodness:

Monday, April 12, 2010

back in the new blog groove

*sigh* so I'm finally blog ready again; something finally broke loose of the logjam in my noggin. Now, I know I've been mentioning this religion-ish entry for a bit of a while now (annoyingly so), and I will get to it, it's just that every time I start to piece it together in my head, I realize it needs to stew a bit longer.

As for today (or tonight, really...well, at this point tonights) I have to go on a bit of a 'work rant'. In an attempt to set the stage, let me briefly set up my work situation: I am a middle school teacher (and clearly a masochist) in a school serving a low-income population ripe with drug activity and absentee parenting. Not to say this school population doesn't have its bright spots. In fact, there are a lot of really great kids at my school. A lot of great kids with big, big hearts.

Now I have all the cliche teacher complaints too: they don't listen, they don't work, they don't get my jokes, they don't offer to wash my car for extra credit. My real problem is when I, or my fellow teachers, talk to the parents.

For every one parent we have that cares and tries to be involved, we have five that feed us bullshit, defend bad behaviors, or just flat out ignore us; It's like a bad parenting hydra. But again, this is not all that uncommon, sadly.

Problem for me is that every time we have one of these invisible parents, my blood boils, probably more than it should. Sure, I always got aggravated with these people before, but after losing Joel... well, parent sensitivities go into over-drive. A little more angry at people that take their children for granted, or just don't take them at all.
Every day of work for me (pretty sure I've said this before) is a room full of reminders of what Joel will never be. True, some days my job is a big reminder of what I don't want my children to be, but that too just makes me hate these parents even more.

At this point, honestly, I really just cannot deal with the constant barrage of people that don't give a fuck about their kids. Maybe every once in a while, but I think I'm just still a little too emotionally raw to insure that I remain tactful with these worthless wastes of universal energy. Why couldn't THESE be the people in the World Trade Center back in 2001? I mean, aren't they why people hate America?

*sigh* so yeah, this combined with an upcoming consolidation has me hitting the bricks and heading to a new school next year. If it weren't for the consolidation I'd stick around and drive myself insane (eventually hunting down and tar and feathering the parents that never respond to calls from school). Of course I also feel guilty leaving the people that really and truly helped my wife and I get through everything. Great people.

Anyway, if you have kids, ANSWER THE FUCKING PHONE! (thats our moral)


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Well then...

So it has been almost another month, so its definitely time for a blog post where I apologize for not keeping my New Year's resolution. Sorry. Over it? good.

I'll be getting back on the blog-bike soon enough, you know, life gives me a minute.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Yes, I'm still alive. Wish I could say I've been too busy for a post, but that wouldn't be entirely true (although I could make up the excuse). I suppose, if anything, I've been distracted.

While I'd never really say that my mind is 'occupied', it certainly tends to be pre-occupied with what often seem to be unimportant, or at least un-help-able, items.
Unfortunately its really not all that interesting. Least not for a blog. Who wants to read a rant about tax dollars and the education system that, in the end, would really only prove how little I know about the inner-workings of the system that pays my bills? (Clearly these people know what they are doing, right? I mean, they are the EDUCATION system...and part of the government! So they MUST know what is best.)

Now one interesting and not-mad-at-the-world item thats been on my ming is the young Mr. Blair Culver (had I mentioned that? Blair Owen, to be exact. more names that will probably make my family cringe

So far things have been looking pretty good for our newest boy. Even had an echo-cardiogram the other day and got the all clear on heart issues (ordered for two reasons: my sister was born with a heart defect *insert joke* and there are some kidney issues related to heart defects)
He has also been referred to as "wild" which I would certainly agree with . The kid moves a whole lot more than Jules or Joel ever did during their ultrasounds. We may be in for some trouble when this guy comes home.

I still have plans for 'Ask a DB dad', particularly on the religious front like I had teased. Well, its not religious advice, persay, more like 'how to deal with religious stuff' because, to put it simply, just because a Bible quote applies to a situation, it doesn't mean it is automatically comforting. But- but.. it's from THE BIBLE?! Yes, Virginia, but so is the edict not to eat that bacon sandwich you're chowing down on -- we'll talk about this later.

As for now I must go work on this 'grad school' stuff and, apparently, figure out what I "officially" plan to do with my life. I'm being told that making smartass comments, reading comics, thinking about comics and cleaning up poop does not count as a "life plan". Feel free to make suggestions.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Joel's Story

I started this blog because I wanted to make myself do something productive (if you can call this thing 'productive), other people, however, have done a much better job of contributing to the world since the loss of their child or children.

Take, for example, Malory, who created Every Life Has a Story in honor of her daughter Janessa after she passed away. She makes keepsake / memorial videos for those of us who have so little to remember our children by.

I woke up this morning to find that, along with a snow day, she had blessed us with a video for Joel. (Yes, this woman is such an angel I am crediting her with the snow day too).

'Thank you' is not enough.

Monday, February 15, 2010

snowy thoughts

Sitting at work (lunch time - my time - union says you can't fuss at me! ha!), watching the snow fall in 5 different directions, sipping the gas station cappuencino..cappaccc..capikachu...toffee-coffee for which I braved the insane snow for, I wonder to myself, "WHY HAVEN'T THEY SENT THESE CHILDREN HOME YET??"     I'll keep my fingers crossed.

On the upside, the longer I'm here, the more kids get to marvel at my 80s outfit: cuffed, faded jeans, tucked-in Iron Maiden t-shirt, rat-tail (thank you, wife).       Most kids saw me this morning, flippedo out, laughed.  One bright young lad looked at me, smiled, and said, "this does not surprise me."  Yes, Mr. Culver is the funny one....or at least the weird one.

But you guys already knew that. 

DB blog coming up shortly :  some heads-advice when it comes to religion and the dead baby experience.  Its as much for "comforters" as it is for the DB parents, so feel free to pass it along to all your friends and neighbors!

time to fluff the rat-tail; students are on their way.

...wait, that sounds dirty... ick.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ask a DB Dad: a question you won't think to ask

You'll never see it coming.

So here is an issue that has bothered me since I first started reaching out to other parents that have suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth: resentment from the paternal family.

While it certainly isn't always the case, I was amazed at just how many couples found themselves facing this after losing a child. As my wife would explain, it is something that DB Mom's specifically deal with: people looking at them, thinking "what did she do to kill her baby?"

Pretty harsh.

But even more so when it is your supposed family thinking these things, or even worse, outright saying them.

To my own experience, it was things we never heard, but heard about; and more important than that, what their actions and attitudes had to say. Not to mention the years of turmoil beforehand. Of course, some members of the family were kind enough to verbalize their opinions, backing up what we'd suspected.

For others, it is years of snubs, snide remarks, not so passive aggressive comments and the complete ruin of once live-able or even loving relationships. (or, you know, at least as loving as a daughter-in-law/mother-in-law relationship can be)

In some cases, the stress of not-knowing, which tends to go hand-in-hand with a miscarriage or stillbirth, amplifies the existing tensions. For others, it is a never-before-seen undercurrent flowing through their entire family dynamic.
Common DB theme: it's different for everyone.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that an awful lot of DB parents seem to end up trying to survive the fallout in ways they never expected. You are busy deing with the pain as a parent, as a father and husband, then there is this other thing. This strange conflict where the woman you want to protect is under attack from the people that could do no wrong.

So what does a DB Daddy do?

Fuck if I know.

Me, I found no easy solution, finally going with the simplest solution. (want details? well, thats what the rest of my blog is for, you nosey bastards...but no, I didn't kill anyone)

I'm certainly not one to judge any man's reaction to this family situation; it is a turmoil on top of an already excruciating hell.

I do, however, say "shut the fuck up" to all those family members that cannot help themselves but to pass judgement. Aren't these people going through enough without you....being you!

I'd love to get a wider range of feedback from other DB parents and families. How did this work out in your family? Was there an issue at all? Is it still a source of tension/stress/strife? What did you do? Did you do nothing at all?

If you're new to this club, I am both sorry and glad that you are here. My hope is that your family -- in all its facets -- is kind and supportive to both yourself and your co-parent.

But as always, my advice is to talk about these things, at least think about these things, and assess your situation. Be aware of your family; you know them best. If you need to pull away, do it. Talk to that person you knocked up, ask her what she thinks, what she feels, because as tends to be the case, the family's ire is focused on her, not you.

Yes, unfortunately, your child has died, and now I am telling you to be paranoid about your family. Congratulations, you are NOT in Kansas anymore (and if you are reading this from Kansas,well, think of your own damn idiom.)

Good luck, and keep your head up, because next time I'll talk about how God is trying to step on you. **humor? I like to think of it that way**

Saturday, February 6, 2010

zzzZZZZ**KKzkkzK** ZZZzzzzZZZZZ

I keep attempting to get a blog written, but I'm a bit too busy snoring...and subsequently destroying my wife's sanity.

To my understanding, I am one hell of a snorer, and have been for years. When I used to travel with my college Model UN group, I was eventually relegated to bunking with our professor after a trip to New York where my snoring inspired an other-wise polite teammate, who was also a cop back home, to eagerly pronounce his desire for his sidearm. Said professor slept using a C-PAP machine, so he didn't mind the snoring because he couldn't hear it over his own Vader-esque breathing.

Finally after years of friends and, um, co-sleepers, complaining of my nocturnal rumblings but also detailing the fact that I would occasionally stop breathing all-together, -- and the added fact that as a student, University health care would help pay -- I went and got a sleep study. (I could explain the road-blocks my family threw out to keep me from seeking medical advice, but it's the same story with different nouns at this point)

Now let me tell you, nothing recreates your normal sleeping habits like having 20+ wires and monitors strapped to you, including about 10 on your head and face. Diagnosis: mild sleep-apnea. Apparently the emphasis was on 'mild' because they actually told me I didn't really have any problems and sent me on my way. I didn't actually receive the "diagnosis" until I went in for my vasectomy (same hospital) and it was in the computer. Now I've also been told I have abnormally large tonsils, which is probably another issue.

So not only do I snore to the point that I wake up tired and would literally just pass out around 4 o'clock no matter what I was doing, I'd also started snoring to the point that my wife can't get any rest (difficult enough of a challenge for a pregnant woman) and now I'm waking up Jules as well. So yeah; it's bad.

So what did I do? To avoid the C-PAP, and knowing I can't get my tonsils taken out any time soon, I bought an anti-snoring mouthpiece: pulls the lower jaw forward to where your teeth lineup, pulling your tongue away from the back of your throat, which is often the cause of snoring.

Does it work? Well, I'm still in the stages of "getting used to it", but I feel like it was making some improvements. "was"? Yeah, I say that because two nights ago I apparently managed to snore through my mouthpiece, which created a whole new symphony of strange bodily noises. Then last night Jules wasn't sleeping without my arm under him, so I never got my mouthpiece. Silly, sleepy me never thought to grab the mouthpiece all those times I was back up with Jules, trying to calm him back to sleep. Apparently I should have, as my house-shaking snores returned full force. Now I'm left trying to figure out where to get flowers during a major snowstorm...

**update** most disappointing "major storm" ever. I can still see the grass! ...Now I really have no excuse to not buy flowers...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Politics and Economics of having a stillbirth

Today was a helluva day for a number of reasons. There were approximately 4500 reasons in particular that it was a helluva day. Impressively, that wasn't even the grand total of reasons!

Now despite what my voting record may suggest, I am not a full-fledged liberal; I'm certainly no right-winger; perhaps I'm supposed to call myself a libertarian, but I don't organize books (get it? haha?) No, I'm pretty well in the middle, which sadly translates into me "not really having a position".

Forgive me if my life experience suggests that there is rarely such thing as "black and white". I know there is a flip-side to every hard-nosed position, and exceptions to every rule (I spent 5 years studying literature and the English language : nothing but flip-sides and exceptions). That being said, I want to share something I posted on Facebook.

It addresses the shittiness of blindly taking a hard stance on an issue, while admittedly taking a one-dimensional view of the situation. That makes it either the most brilliant or most asinine thing I've ever said (remember, 5 years of english/lit)

A C Dear Conservatives, my son was too "old" to be aborted because he was "a life, a baby", but the insurance companies whose profits you protect say he wasn't real because he died in the womb. So, if you vote Pro-Life, send me $50 to help pay these medical bills you confused mother fuckers.

11 minutes ago · ·
Adam Culver
...and if you didn't realize that the Pro-Life Republican candidate you voted for is also anti-health care reform, you need to add 10 bucks as a stupid tax.
7 minutes ago ·
Adam Culver
...if you are anti- health care reform BECAUSE you are pro-life, then you should pay double because voting against health care reforms is voting against the 'dead baby' community, which is like a double-negative and translates into you being in favor of babies dying because it saves insurance companies money. yup, you're a prick.
a few seconds ago ·
Adam Culver
cash or paypal, please.

Yes, that is a Conan O'Brien icon...something I DO take a hard stance on.