Archive for the 'You: the reader' Category

Goodbye, farewell and amen

April 17, 2011

Andrew Hicks

Let’s recap: I start this blog in September. In January, I pledge to post 365 entries in 2011. In February, I realize that goal is unsustainable. In April, I decide to discontinue this blog. This will be the final entry.

There will be no more Dad’s Daytime Diary because, in a matter of days, I will no longer be a daytime dad. We’re changing the guard — I’ll be the 50-hour-per-week bread earner, and my wife will stay at home with the kids. If she wants to start a blog called Mom’s Morning Missives, I’ll be sure to read every word.

Now, before anyone gets upset, let’s remind ourselves that no one reads this blog anyway. Sure, my babies’ grandparents check this site every day in search of new pictures. When I link these blog posts from Facebook, sometimes I get 75 or 100 hits a day. So you’re here, you’re reading right now, and obviously that means the first sentence of this paragraph is not true.

But here’s the deal — I have another blog I work on, I’m very proud of it, and it’s gaining serious comic momentum. It’s called We’re Not Funny, and it’s a comedy collective. I have a growing group of comedians and pseudo-academic smartasses who joke and write with me. I’m the gatekeeper, of course. I edit and post all the entries that go up. Ask my wife, and she’ll tell you I’m a passive-aggressive control freak.

I will not stop writing about my kids. Anything I used to post here, I can post at WNF. I will also post to WNF all the types of writing I posted here that didn’t necessarily fit the Dad’s Daytime Diary format, e.g. the obituary for Carlos O’Kelly’s, my stories of doing standup comedy and all other miscellany.

I’ve enjoyed my time spent working on this blog, and I’ve treasured the feedback I’ve gotten from its small but loyal core of readers. Follow me over to We’re Not Funny, or keep checking this site for links to all my newest writing. I will maintain the archive of posts, and I have plans to edit down and self-publish the past seven months’ worth of daddy writing. It’s been fun and, hey, it got me writing quality stuff again on the regular. Thanks for starting this journey with me.

LAST BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

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Linda the ho-bot

February 23, 2011

Andrew Hicks

In the interest of continuity (for those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile), I should mention it’s been almost six months since The Event, and I’m still not back to work. Oh, I’m working around the house — dishes, cooking, vacuuming, laundry and multitasking the double-baby situation — but none of that draws a paycheck or cash tips. I won’t get to exploit all this family work until I’m close to death and need one of these lucky kids to change my bedpan or something.

So it’s about time to go back to waiting on people (unless YOU — yes, YOU — want to pay me to write stuff), since the injured ankle is almost healed. My movement is still restricted, I still have pain at the end of the day, and I never should’ve walked in the snow earlier this month. Also, if you break your ankle in September, and in February, your 2 year old begs you to get on the trampoline and jump with her, don’t do it. You will look foolish, you will ache, and you will regret it. But I’m feeling good, I’m writing, and I’m still not drinking.

I do owe some people some money, though. Can’t lie about that. I get all kinds of robocalls I don’t answer every day. Most don’t leave a message. Some leave an automessage that is joined in progress once my voicemail starts recording. And then, there’s Linda. Linda is a collectorbot who calls and leaves the same 12-second voice message a half-dozen times a day. Crazy thing is, every time I get a Linda message, it originates from a different area code. You know that Ludacris song about having hoes in different area codes? Well, for one ho, Linda is in 124 area codes and counting. That’s impressive, Linda. But annoying.

My birthday’s this Sunday, and already I’ve gotten a card from my mom with a very generous check in it. This proves once again that the most thoughtful gift anyone can give is a lump sum of cash. Made my day. Not a word of this to Linda, anybody.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

This caption has yet to be written.

Microreadership drive

February 19, 2011

Andrew Hicks

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post for Saturday was written on Sunday, while Andrew listened to the new Radiohead album, which he recommends.

Most appeals for readership by blog authors don’t treat individuals as individuals. But I aim to pioneer the opposite approach. I know that each day people happen upon this site after they type in search phrases. Most of these web surfers will probably come by this blog once and never return, but I figure, if I address the specific concerns that brought them to my site, they might come back. Repeat readership is the name of the game, so bear with me as I address a few of my search-term readers specifically, one on one:

TO THE FIVE PEOPLE WHO SEARCHED FOR “BUFFET”
Man, you guys are people after my own heart. My favorite buffet experience right now is the Saturday breakfast at Golden Corral. Get there around 9:45 or so, eat a giant salad with baby shrimp, black olives, red onion, blue cheese crumbles and Thousand Island, make a single-plate run through the breakfast items and finish it all with a slice of “no sugar added” blueberry pie. It’s too early for me to eat really sweet food, but it’s not too early for pie. Previously, my only option was quiche. Also, the breakfast buffet includes free juice, milk and coffee, and Sarah is still free, and she always eats at least 27 cents worth of scrambled eggs and 4 cents worth of soft-serve vanilla. Added value.

TO THE PERSON WHO SEARCHED FOR “DELAYED BATHING”
When I was like ten, I once delayed taking a bath for an entire month. Is that what we’re talking about here?

TO THE PERSON WHO SEARCHED FOR “WHY DON’T WHITE PEOPLE USE WASHCLOTHS”
I can’t speak for every white person, but to me the washcloth seems like an unnecessary middle-medium. I can get the soap directly from the bar to my body by placing it in my hand and rubbing it on the body part I’m interested in washing. Seems easier and more efficient than rubbing the soap on the washcloth, then rubbing the washcloth on my body. The hygiene issue is moot to me, because if you rub the soap on a particularly dirty or intimate part of your body, it’s STILL SOAP. It IS cleanliness. It repels my ass-cooties or whatever. Can you tell I opted to take three years of science in high school rather than four?

TO THE PERSON WHO SEARCHED FOR “FINE LEATHER DIARIES”
I know a lot about diaries, but I’ve always kept mine on the computer or in beat-up notebooks of various sizes. I’m not a “fine leather diaries” kind of guy. But I want you to read my diary, so together let’s explore the opening paragraph of Wikipedia’s entry on leather: “Leather is a durable and flexible material created via the tanning of putrescible animal rawhide and skin, primarily cattlehide. It can be produced through different manufacturing processes, ranging from cottage industry to heavy industry.” That’s informative and entertaining — tell me the word “putrescible” looks anything less than electric on the page.

TO THE PERSON WHO SEARCHED FOR “8 MONTH OLD BABY WITH BROKEN NOSE”
Silas is almost 8 months, and his nose is fine, but when Sarah was around this age, I left her on the bed and turned to the dresser to get myself a shirt. In the few seconds my back was turned, she managed to roll herself off the bed and tumble down to the floor, where it seemed she landed on her shoulderblade and head. Little girl screamed her head off, and I spent the night cursing myself for allowing her to get severe brain damage before her first birthday. She fell asleep crying and acting disoriented, but she woke up normal, and I never again put her on my bed and turned my back on her. She didn’t break her nose, either. So I guess none of this is relevant to you. Sorry I lost you as a reader.

TO THE PERSON WHO SEARCHED FOR “GERMAN DIAPER STORIES”
Ich bemerkte gestern, als Sarah wachte aus ihrem Mittagsschlaf, sie habe ihre Windel entfernt. Es gab eine vage Geruch von Kot, aber ich habe nichts gesehen. Ich wischte ihr Bereichen und einen neuen Windel auf ihr. An diesem Morgen, wenn vaccuuming ihr Zimmer, stieß ich auf eine vertrocknete braune Stück Kot, viele Füße, von wo sie schlief. Sie warfen die Sauger durch den Raum. Es gibt keine Art, wie ich über diese Geschichte in Englisch schreiben würde, aber das ist Deutsch, so dass wir sicher sind.

TO THE PERSON WHO SEARCHED FOR “DIARY THAT IS LIKE POOP”
You are definitely in the right place, sir or ma’am.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Week With No Facebook

December 22, 2010

If you missed reading my two parenthetical updates to the last blog post — although I don’t know why you’d miss it; you compulsively check this site twice an hour for updates — the Post-Dispatch article on me hasn’t run yet. As of December 18th, it was scheduled to run on December 19th. As of December 19th, it was scheduled to run on December 26th. As of now, it’s scheduled to run on January 2nd.

Yours truly, known procrastinator, jumped the gun on promoing the article. I’ve learned my lesson. Don’t even talk about the article. It might get bumped again. It might get bumped two more times. It might never run. Print might die before then. Jesus might come back before then. (“I heard there was supposed to be a really good article in the Post-Dispatch today about some writer fella, so I came down to check it out. What, you bumped it again? Fine, I’ll be back in two thousand MORE years. Get your stuff together, human race!”)

We’re in the homestretch of the holiday season now. I’m at the point where I can’t hope to send out Christmas cards to relatives more than one state over and have the cards arrive before Christmas. I’ll have to scour the Hallmark store for the Merry Belated Christmas/Happy New Year/I Know You’re Not Surprised This Card Is Late But It’s Better Than Nothing section, preferably some cute card with Ziggy on the front. You gotta love that pathetic, bald loser Ziggy. You know, I might send out Christmas cards late, but at least I have a full head of hair. Though I almost certainly lose maturity points for trying to compare myself favorably to fictional characters from the funny pages.

My timeline’s all screwy right now. Christmas is three days away, Hannukah has been over for two weeks, and I think they moved Kwaanza to March this year. Today is Wednesday, my body thinks it’s Friday, and to figure out today’s date, I had to summon the brain cells that are usually only used once every ten years to determine which Dakota capital is Bismark and which one’s Fargo. (NOTE: That debate got a heckuva lot easier when the movie Fargo came out, and I could simply visualize North Dakota as being Almost Canada.)

Even screwier, I’ve followed my newfound buddy and comedy partner Chris “Woo” Trader into a social networking experiment known as Week With No Facebook. Keep in mind, I didn’t sign up for Facebook until July, on the day Silas came home from the hospital. In the time since, Silas has more than doubled his body weight, and I’ve probably quadrupled my time spent idly on the Internet, both on my laptop and on my mobile. If I’m outside watching the kids, and I get even a millisecond’s stab of boredom, I check Facebook. If I’m inside putting the dishes away, and I think of something even marginally clever to tell a specific someone or just whoever on Facebook might read it, I pull out my phone and type away.

My comedy and writing output is at a quality and quantity level not seen in almost a decade, but Facebook time eats at Real People time. I’ve found myself pretending I wasn’t just typing on my phone when I hear my wife’s footsteps approaching. That’s cause enough to take a week away from the Facebook machine, and in that time, I’ve finally gotten some good work done on a book editing assignment I’ve been procrastinating on.

Anyway, I’m supposed to be keeping some kind of diary about my time away from Facebook, but I haven’t. Typical for me. The vast majority of this hypothetical diary would read:

    3:15 pm: Kids sleeping. Wanted to go on Facebook. Went on Twitter instead. Nothing of interest. 

    11:45 pm: Took a break from book editing. Wanted to go on Facebook. Checked email instead. Nothing of interest. Went to The Onion A.V. Club instead. Killed a half-hour.

    1:30 am: Maybe if I just check and see how many notifications I have on Facebook, it will sate my curiosity and won’t be cheating. No, it’s definitely cheating. Can’t I claim my Week With No Facebook was actually just a work week? It’s been five days already. Enough is enough.

I logged off Facebook at midnight on Friday. You’d better believe I’ll be right back on Facebook at the stroke of midnight tomorrow. I might even do what I’ve done on more boring New Year’s Eves and celebrate the midnight changeover in other time zones first. (“Hooray, my WWNF is over in London! Let’s read some status updates… Hooray, my WWNF is over in New York! Let’s post some pictures from 4 years ago.”)

I think my weeklong Facebook blackout will help me appreciate and maximize my time on and off Facebook, and now that I’m reminded you can email status updates without even logging on, I might start doing one day on/one day off or just have set times of the day when I go on Facebook.

Some of this sounds feasible, and some of it sounds like the old alcohol justification arguments I used to pull on myself: “I’ll only drink vodka, because I handle myself better, and the hangover’s not as bad… I’ll only drink beer, because it’s not strong, and I know exactly how buzzed I’ll get with each beer… I’ll only drink two nights a week… I’ll only bring 10 bucks to the bar with me… I won’t drink before the kids are asleep.” Lots of experimentation and justification there, but I’m going on three months sober, so obviously anything’s possible.

Right now, though, maybe I should just keep my new goals simple. Like, for instance, how about getting the cards out before Christmas next year?

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Sarah's first Christmas

Old glories, new publicity

December 18, 2010

Andrew Hicks

[AUTHOR’S NOTE <added 12/19>: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch article on me that’s mentioned below for 12/19 now is scheduled to run on Sunday, 12/26. I’ll likely repost this entry then, but for now, I don’t have anything else written, so I’m leaving it up.]

[AUTHOR’S NOTE <added 12/20>: I got an email from Jim Cook, author of the above-mentioned piece for the Post-Dispatch. The article has been re-rescheduled for Sunday, 1/2. If nothing interesting happens between now and then, you may get to read about me.]

On my eighteenth birthday, I found out my website won first place in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s “Best of the St. Louis Web” contest. I’d just gotten to college six months prior and found out students could create their own sites for free. I met up in the computer lab with a slender, thirtyish techie-dork stereotype who introduced himself only as Spiff. A couple hours of simple HTML code later, The Andrew Hicks World Wide Web Extravaganza was born.

I had a backlog of movie reviews, original stories based on the 1960s “Batman” TV show and a completed comedy diary called “A Year in the Life of a Nerd.” I’d started a second yearlong nerd diary upon arriving at college.

The Internet was so young then that the Yahoo! directory had to create its “Diaries” category specifically for my site. This was years before the term “blog” existed. Competition for original comedy writing online was a lot scarcer than it is today, when the words you’re reading right now might as well be hosted on TheTumbleweedBloweth.com.

I bring this up because now, 14 years later, Jim Cook — the fellow who wrote the original “Best of the St. Louis Web” article in the Post — has put together a new contest for STL-area sites. As a companion piece, he’s written some kind of Where Are They Now?-type piece that profiles me. It’s scheduled to run tomorrow, in the local section of their Sunday paper.

I’m hoping the new exposure will result in expanded readership. Just a few more people reading and laughing is all I’m hoping for. I’m not expecting anything so dramatic as the orgiastic run on goods that happens when some mom-and-pop operation suddenly gets vaulted into Oprah’s Favorite Things status.

No matter the end result, it’ll be nice to have a few people reading my words other than my family and circle of Facebook friends. Or people who stumble on my blog by searching random terms like “broken ankle pink cast” and “good looking man self taken photo hick.” Both actual search terms that added a single hit apiece to my traffic tally.

If you’re one of those people who found this site courtesy of the Post-Dispatch or Stltoday.com, welcome. Look around. Bookmark it. Catch up on the old stuff. Come back for the new stuff. Tell your friends. Pay me to write or edit for you. Book me a high-paying stand-up comedy gig. Mail me your winning lottery ticket. And have a great Christmas.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Okay, so it's not a baby pic, but I was only 20 when this was taken. Which kind of seems like Baby Andrew when I look back now.

That pee jug’s not gonna empty itself

September 19, 2010

My nuclear family is spread among three households right now. My wife Tiffany’s back at home, gearing up to start her work week. She signed up for overtime this Monday through Friday, since there’s not any bread-winning going on with this guy right now. No, I lost the bread a week ago. Lay On Your Butt And Pee In A Jug All Day hasn’t been a viable career option since Clinton dismantled the welfare system in the mid-’90s.

Little Sarah is spending the week two hours away with her maternal grandparents, who love seeing their sweet baby girl so much that they won’t mind the extra work and the natural drain caused by chasing and entertaining a toddler all day. That’s the impression they gave me, anyway, and I’ll take it. Tiffany’s parents have been helpful, eager participants in any task asked of them since I came on the scene in 2007. They are the perfect in-laws, and they know about this blog too, as of tonight, so you can bet I’ll continue to say nice things about them.

Two-month-old Silas and I have checked into my mom’s spare bedroom. She too has stepped to the plate in her role as Grandma Hicks, and besides which, she’s taken care of me one way or another my entire life. I don’t feel the least bit awkward having her bring me fluids all day and empty the old pee jug after. All I’m missing is that little silver table bell you ding to demand service at hotel front desks in old movies. I would ding it with a full-on sense of comic irony, but let’s get serious – that pee jug’s not gonna empty itself. And this woman who gave birth to me is willing to do it, because she serves with a cheerful heart. Thanks, New Testament!

Meantime, me and the ankle bone are going to heal, heal, heal. Once I got access to the crutches on Friday, I got this deceptive feeling that I could be more mobile than I could with the walker. Maybe that’s why the physical therapy folks at the hospital thought crutches were so evil. Yeah, I figured, screw the jug. I will urinate in the toilet like a man. And wash my hands after. Then crutch on into the kitchen and make myself some food.

Well, allow me to tell you, just because you can get around on the crutches does not mean you should get around on the crutches. About ten seconds after I become mobile, blood starts rushing to the site of the injury. That hurts. Inevitably, the bum foot bears some kind of weight or gets banged around because, guess what? I don’t really know how to use crutches. I’m self-taught, and my self-teaching usually only improves when I figure out what not to do. Or when my wife sees me practicing “what not to do” and calls me out on it. She’s a real caller-outer.

Tiffany was absolutely, understandably exhausted late Friday night. I wanted a salad, and I wanted it with lettuce, tomato, onion, black beans, turkey, shredded cheese, salsa, ranch and twelve crackers. Tiffany didn’t want to go fill my order. She wanted me to wait until morning to eat some cereal. I didn’t need her. I had my brand new friend the crutches. And a plan. I would pull everything I needed from the fridge and put it on the table behind me, which I could do standing stationary. Then I would sit in a chair and do all the cutting and prep work at the table. Then I would eat. Simple plan in theory. In reality, ten times harder than I’d imagined. My surgery foot was belting out crazy old obscenities I hadn’t heard since Full Metal Jacket. I think I set my recovery back an entire day with that salad. Which was, to be fair, a freakin’ delicious salad.

I’ve spent a lot of time with Silas since my injury. We both have immobility in common. He can’t walk, and he doesn’t have any demon crutches telling him he can. So we hang out in the bedroom, and I do all the basic dadly duties from my perch. Sarah likes to make full use of the upstairs in the house, but at least three times a day, I can get her to come up on the bed with me, sip some juice, and let me read her a book. She wants me to read her the same book three times in a row, which isn’t really my scene, but I indulge her. I get my kid time in, but too much burden has been placed on Tiffany in this situation. Never mind that she’s been pregnant for almost half our marriage.

The one-week dispersement of my family is a necessary evil that, on my end, I hope to translate to lots of productive writing. On that score, it’s good to be back. Right now, I have an enjoyable life rich with material and a brand new perspective. I’ve got the desire, the drive and the confidence. Most importantly, I’ve got the makings of an audience. It’s a humble audience right now, but I have old readers and new readers culled from endeavors past and present. It makes me excited for the future.