Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Kids: Asset or liability?

March 22, 2011

Andrew Hicks

I read an article on Time.com today about an academic study that, in essence, concluded that people who claim they’re happier with kids than they’d be without kids are mothereffin’ liars. These parents are lying to themselves and everyone else as a form of delusional self-justification, because kids are an economic and emotional drain, according to the researchers.

And, yeah, there’s some basis to the argument. Most of the time in this blog, I present nothing but the positives. Sarah and I played outside, she said something cute, then she did exactly what I told her. Silas ate his entire jar of baby food, sat on the floor and laughed, then he went to sleep early. There are entire days where the act of being daddy seems easy, natural and wholly rewarding.

On the other hand, there are days where I feel overwhelmed and a little resentful of these new demands that never go away. Perhaps I’m in a bad mood because I was up late with a crying baby. Or because Sarah threw her breakfast on the floor. Or because there are entire weeks I don’t leave the bounds of my front and back yard. Or because I no longer get to spend my money and time exclusively on myself, like I’d gotten to used to after years of being single.

I tend to downplay any feelings I have of losing individual freedom. I still get my free time. Not in the ridiculous, unappreciated abundance I had in my twenties. But that makes it sweeter when it comes, mostly unscheduled. Right now, I’ve had both kids sleeping for an hour and a half, and I feel like I’m at Club Med. I stand behind the truth in these words, even though I may have only brainwashed myself into believing they are true.

I also believe, without a doubt, that getting married and having kids will extend my years. Single Andrew, the guy who went through lengthy periods where he averaged 15 beers a night, didn’t have incentive to see old age. Married Andrew — Daddy — has been sober for almost a half-year now, and he has the best opportunity he could imagine to reconnect with the joy of youth from the perspective of an adult.

Being babyless seemed two-dimensional. Having a family seems three-dimensional. And, I can’t lie, having grown up feeling first like an outcast and later a non-contributor, I will continue to trumpet my beautiful family as evidence of my own innate normalcy.

Yes, though, from a practical, empirical standpoint — and from watching humanity at large seem more frightening and irredeemable with each passing year — there’s no way for me to justify bringing life into the world. My offspring, with my guidance, might go on to the type of prosperity that could support me in later life, but that’s not anything I’m thinking about right now, as a healthy man in his early thirties with two kids still in diapers.

I’m reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad right now, a financial advice book which advises the reader to break the elements in their lives down to assets and liabilities. Get more assets, ditch the liabilities. In the world of Rich Dad, a kid is a definite liability. But allow me to make an emotional judgment call and close out this post by saying that, on paper, I’m a poor dad, but inside I feel rich. If I’m lying to myself, well, so far I’m turning out to be a damn good liar.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Sarah likes to roll the ball down the little stairs and have the ball bounce on as many of them as possible before hitting the ground.

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A man like Annie Lennox

February 10, 2011

Andrew Hicks

EDITOR’S NOTE: Andrew wrote about half of the following post yesterday afternoon, intending to come back and finish it when he had a break from the babies. It never happened.

On the standup comedy front, last night was my first trip to another Central Illinois club, Mason City Limits, in Mason City. From what I was able to ascertain, Mason City consists of about four blocks, three bars and a Dollar General. I’m a little jealous. Where I’m from, we have a Subway and a Christian youth center that looks like a bar from the outside.

I rode up from Springfield in the passenger seat of local C-list celebrity Buddah Eskew*, and immediately, we were arguing about car music. Buddah was like, “We’re listening to Justin Bieber,” and I was like, “Screw that. Justin Bieber sucks. Justin Bieber’s not real music. We’re listening to Miley Cyrus.” Back and forth it went: Bieber, Cyrus, Bieber, Cyrus.

We finally turned on the radio and found shared solace in the song “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” Hearing that song only further cements my feeling that Annie Lennox is one of the great underappreciated male vocalists of our time.

In the back seat were Saad Ahmed, a razor-sharp comedian with an inimitable dry delivery and timing, and Rich Mansfield, the one guy in our peer group that really seems to have the stage performance aspect down and isn’t mostly just up there reciting jokes. Mansfield wanted to talk about comedians the entire time. He told us about a Marc Maron podcast interview with Gallagher that went awry, and he name-checked just about every famous ’80s comedian who was given a sitcom after making it big on “The Tonight Show,” along with other comedians who were no doubt just given a crappy pilot that never got picked up by a network.

The open mic is normally on the first Wednesday of the month at Mason City, but last week’s diabolical snowstorm postponed the event to this Wednesday. I want to blame scheduling changes for the lack of turnout, but there was still a foot of snow on the ground, and the temperature was hovering around 4 degrees Fahrenheit, so that also may have had something to do with everyone’s decision to stay home.

With the exception one of the comics’ mother and girlfriend (two separate people, FYI), the audience was made up entirely of open-mic comedians. Meaning, like fifteen people total, including the club owner and bartender. In a situation like this, you should have a pretty good stockpile of bits you want to try out just in front of your peers. You should just get up there, be conversational, leave out most of your tried-and-true set list and have fun with it.

I didn’t have a lot of fun with it, unfortunately. I had to go up first, which meant no time to relax and laugh a little and try to get together a few shared reference points to call back from earlier in the show. I got some good scattered laughs, but mood-wise, I wasn’t feeling social, I wasn’t feeling bold, I wasn’t really feeling “on.” An Andrew with a different mindset would’ve welcomed the opportunity to have a looser, more friendly structure onstage, to chat up a new club owner, to banter with the other comics. This Andrew mostly kept quiet.

I have another open mic at my home club this Wednesday. Five days to get myself back into Showoff Smartass Mode.

* Buddah writes regularly for our humor site, We’re Not Funny, and is a very friendly, amusing dude. I like editing his stuff because the end result is always a good blend of lines that are funny written as is, other lines I can make funnier with a little judicious tweaking and still other lines I completely rewrite based on his premises.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

TV Guide from 1984

January 3, 2011

Andrew Hicks

There were a few years, when I was younger and alone a lot more, that I made a concerted effort to read lotsa books as a New Year’s resolution. My full-on book reading has dwindled over the years and is quick becoming a thing of the past the more Sarah grows as a walking, talking person.

Now I’ll check out an issue of Rolling Stone or Entertainment Weekly from the library every couple months, start reading it, leave it somewhere out of the way, forget about it, renew it, still not finish reading it, then finally skim through the remaining pages as I’m walking to the book returns desk. That’s how I learned who Paramore was. (HINT: It’s a contemporary musical act.)

Anyway, most of my reading is done online, and it’s all attention-deficitty. My only reading material in print so far in 2011 is a copy of TV Guide from February 1984 that I bought from a comic book shop like 20 years ago. I grew up an obsessive, nostalgia-driven TV and music freak, and I found stuff like old issues of TV Guide to be fascinating pop-culture artifacts.

I just found that TV Guide in a box of stuff in the basement. Stuff I’d packed away probably ten years ago and never opened back up. I don’t have much use for it now, so it’s headed for the recycle bin or a thrift store donation bag. But for a quick moment, while I should be writing about something intelligent, I’m gonna take my 27-year-old TV Guide out for one final spin.

On the cover, the Winter Olympics. Nothing too fancy. Cover price: 50 cents. Highlights inside include:

    Page A-7 — A two-paged Let’s Review the Facts ad from R.J. Reynolds tobacco that says, “Studies which conclude that smoking causes disease have regularly ignored scientific evidence to the contrary.” There are probably a dozen cigarette ads scattered through the rest of the magazine, all featuring beautiful, white-teethed, active people whose lives are enhanced by nicotine and tar. Just typing all this makes me want to go smoke. 

    Page A-24 — Listings for NBC’s powerhouse Saturday sitcom lineup of “Diff’rent Strokes,” “Silver Spoons,” “We Got it Made” and “Mama’s Family.” Three of the four were in regular syndication when I was a kid, but I only ever saw one TBS rerun of “We Got it Made” in a hotel room during a vacation one time when I was like 13. It’s about maids in a hotel so, you know, the title is kinda like a play on words.

    Page A-74 — The joy of realizing I could’ve watched a brand new “Scarecrow and Mrs. King” is coupled with the pain of realizing that in 1984, Nickelodeon ceased programming at 7 pm. This was a cable world pre-Nick at Nite. Horrifying.

    Page A-120 — A two-page ad spread for the Rotation-Freedom Diet, which didn’t actually admit they “made false, misleading, and unsubstantiated claims in advertising” until 2006, after marketing the diet under six other names. You gotta admit that’s a pretty good reign of diet-fraud terror, and it’s preserved right here in the old TV Guide I’m about to get rid of.

Twenty-seven years you lasted, issue of TV Guide packed in a box in my basement. That’s a run that could rival even the Rotation-Freedom Diet people.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Me with 5-month-old Sarah.