Wednesday, September 26, 2012


"I know I'm never going to become Jewish. I can't go a day without eating."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Do-it-Yourself Daddy Blood Test

Here's a good comedy scene.

A dad has to do a health screening for his company health insurance requirements. But he's too distracted by day-to-day stuff and misses the deadline for the on-site screenings. So he opts for the "in-home screening kit," which consists of a do-it-yourself finger prick blood test that he has to complete and mail in.

This particular dad is petrified by the sight of his own blood, but figures a finger prick test is much better than getting a whole gallon drawn from his arm at the doctor's office--plus, he's in complete control of the finger-prick test--his home turf, his environment.

Unfortunately, he tries to do it first thing in the morning while he's also trying to get his youngest son off to school.

So he tells his son to get in the shower, then he casually opens the blood kit and reads the instructions and lays everything out carefully on the kitchen counter. He re-reads the instructions, just to make sure, because he really doesn't want to do this twice.

Then he carefully opens up the finger-prick thingy and presses his finger FIRMLY on it, like the instructions say, and--HOLY CRAP! It's like getting skewered with some contraption out of "The Hunger Games."

He yanks his finger away, cursing, and sure enough, a little spot of blood forms on his fingertip. So he holds it carefully over the little blood collector--the instructions say you only need four big drops--no problem.

But only one drop comes out, and then it dries up. He tries squeezing it a bit. Nothing. He tries sqeezing it harder, because he REALLY doesn't want to have to do that again. Come on, little blood drop, come on, little blood drop.

It's 7:45. He hasn't showered or shaved. They need to leave in fifteen minutes.

"Ethan, get out of the shower and get dressed!" he shouts.

There is only one drop of blood in the blood collector. Crap.

He notices there is an extra finger-prick thingy. He decides, what the heck, let's just get this over with. He presses down FIRMLY and--HOLY CRAP THAT HURT JUST AS MUCH THE SECOND TIME!

And again, the blood starts to flow--one drop, and...and..dammit, come on, come on, COME ON!

He now has two drops of blood in the blood collector, and two painful tiny holes in his finger. The indicator that's supposed to turn red when you've collected enough blood is still white. It's 8am.

"Dad, aren't we supposed to leave now?"

"Eat a bowl of cereal! Quickly! Then brush your teeth!"

The dad runs to the bedroom and finds his wife's sewing kit. He takes a pin from the kit, hurries into the bathroom, runs scalding hot water over the tip of it, then runs back to the kitchen, where he pokes himself in one of the two existing tiny holes in his middle finger, which REALLY hurts like hell.

The blood flows again. Not much at all this time.

He pokes himself again. COME ON!

"Dad, are we gonna be late? What are you doing?"

He is starting to sweat. If the sweat mixes with the blood it will ruin everything and he'll have to order a whole new test.

He gets one more teeny drop into the blood collector.

It's now 8:15.

"Dad, school starts in like five minutes."

He bends over the kitchen counter furiously squeezing his finger as hard as he can. He is shaking and cursing.

One more jab from the pin. Squeeze! SQUEEZE! SQUEEZE! COME ON!

It drops into the blood collector. The indicator turns red.

He throws on his shorts and a sweatshirt, rushes his kid to school (a teensy bit late). He mails the sealed blood kit to the lab on the way back home, showers, shaves, and is only two hours late to work.

He takes a deep breath. See how easy that was?

"Ten Tiny Toes" at the Brooklyn Book Festival

Ethan and I went to the Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday to see Marc Brown read my book. I wanted to meet him in person--we had never met during the entire creation of "Ten Tiny Toes."

I also liked the idea of sitting anonymously in a crowd of toddlers and watching someone else read my book to them. He-he-he.

Ethan was gracious enough to join me, even though he would've much preferred to spend his sunny Sunday afternoon at home playing on the computer. (Samuel had too much homework, and Jennifer had to stand guard over Samuel to make sure he did it, so they couldn't go.)

But I think Ethan enjoyed it, sort of. Our conversation at the book festival revolved around economics ("How much does it cost to rent a booth?" "Do you think they make any money?" "You should write a best-seller.")

I enjoyed meeting Marc and watching him read and draw for the kids. That's a good gig.

I also enjoyed seeing a big stack of my books at the Bank Street Bookstore booth, even though it would've been better if the stack were smaller, "because that would mean you'd sold more," as Ethan explained.

Most of all I enjoyed hanging out with Ethan, who is a very fun person to spend an afternoon with.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Samuel still has too much homework, but at least he now has a Panasonic flip clock from the 1980s, courtesy of eBay, just like Marty McFly had in "Back to the Future."

Samuel is happy. So I am happy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Under the covers

Poor Samuel has been crushed with homework for the past week. High school is tougher than middle school. Last night at 11pm he was still working, and he just wanted to go to bed and be done with it.

So we turned off the bedroom light, got under the covers and read a children's book by flashlight, just like the old days.

Then we lay in bed--all four of us--and watched an episode of "Theodore Tugboat" on the iPad.

It was like he was four years old again--but with YouTube, an iPad, and a lot less room in the bed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"Dad, if you were made out of a material..."

"...what material would you be made out of?"


"Hmm. I think I'd be paint. Because then I could just run into a wall and go, 'Splat!,' and it would change color."

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sleepless in Seattle

I'm at the Seattle-Tacoma airport getting ready to take a redeye flight back home--I arrive in Newark at 6am. I hate redeye flights.

I've missed Samuel's first two days of high school, which I probably care about more than he does, but it still seems like I'm missing monumental stuff, and I'm sorry I'm not there.

Two bits of good news:

1. The Seattle-Tacoma airport has free wi-fi. How crazy is that?

2. Ten Tiny Toes is prominently displayed at the Barnes & Noble on Pine Street in downtown Seattle.

Addendum: And the Seattle-Tacoma airport bookstore--a major coup!

Monday, September 3, 2012


It was a good summer. I'm sorry to see it go, like I'm sorry to see all summers go. I know that there are only so many summers, so many days, and sooner or later you come to the end of the ride, and that's just--that's just way too sad a topic to even ponder when we're all so healthy, and happy, and alive. How could we ever be otherwise?

Look at those two beautiful boys. I can't imagine them not being young forever.

Look at that beautiful woman, who--God bless her--doesn't even like rollercoasters, and yet she's at Six Flags on a rainy, 74-degree Labor Day smiling patiently because she loves me. You can tell she's thinking, "I married a psychotic who equates the end of summer with death. Just humor him, and eventually he'll get over it."

Can't we just freeze-frame it? Can't we just keep everything the way it is, and everyone we love will stay healthy and happy and be together forever?

Jones Beach

Yesterday was overcast and 77 degrees, but it was the final Sunday of summer, so we insisted on taking Jennifer to a beach.

Jones Beach is wide and clean, an hour away by car, and if you avoid the main drag--where the bus from Manhattan drops off--you can enjoy a stretch of sand populated almost entirely by 2-year-olds in pink tutus, and unmarred by testosterone-overloaded twentysomethings.

Our sandcastle got washed away approximately thirty seconds after this photo was taken.

But like summer, it was fun while it lasted.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hurricane Harbor

I took Friday off so I could have an end-of-summer waterpark day with the boys.

Hurricane Harbor is the prototypical fiberglass-palm-trees-Beach-Boys-blaring-$22-parking-fee-$10-cheeseburger-corporate-behemoth waterpark. Not built on the side of a mountain. Not locally owned. Good luck finding a real tree or blade of grass. I think even the lifeguards are cyborgs.

But we hadn't been since 2008. You have to go now and then for the sake of cultural literacy.

And I don't mind listening to The Beach Boys/Jimmy Buffett/Jan and Dean/Bobby McFarin now and then.

Hey. Don't worry. Be happy.