Friday, September 29, 2006

D is for Dad, D is also for ????

(Click on the title for a link to pics.)

D is for Daddy, but D is also for ????

There aren't too many books about being a Dad. They have plenty about the baby, plenty about motherhood, pregnancy galore. Breast-feeding, etc.
But they don't give you the secrets, if there are any, to being a dad.
My son was born Friday, Sept. 23. I was expecting a girl, and when they held him up for me to see, I kept waiting for them to say what it is, so I could "announce it."
My wife signed the birth plan and assigned me the task of announcing the sex and cutting the cord. I actually would have liked to pass on the latter, but after the entire delivery process, cutting the cord was a piece of pie.
While the doctor holds up the baby, I realize she was waiting for me to say what I was looking at. Announcing the sex means announcing it, apparently, to the doctor and nurses, who, having seen more of these things than I ever have or will, ought to know better and not need my help.
To be honest, though they said my son came out pretty clean, I wasn't sure what I was looking at. I was thinking that might be part of the umbilical chord, because it was a little darker than the rest of his skin.
"It's a boy," I said. But it was more of a question than an announcement.
I had been expecting a girl. Why, I don't know. Just some feelings here and there. We had a boy's name picked out from the get go, but I thought for sure when we decided to name her, in part, and call her after my Aunt Kathleen, that a girl was coming.
I read Bill Cosby's "Fatherhood." It's some of his routines, watered down substantially, and the lessons, at least so far, aren't all that revealing. Not bad. Just not a sermon on the mount or the wisdom of Solomon.
The only thing that has surprised me so far was the amount of driving.
When Patricia went into labor, she decided to stay home about five hours past the point where I was ready to go. We drove to CMC-Pineville at 4 a.m.
Patricia told me after I drove great, calmly, coolly. Not my usual style at all.
She did say at one point during the drive, as a contraction hit, "Could you at least drive the speed limit?"
I was, at the time, at the limit.
I punched it.
I had worried about going to the hospital on 485 at around 4 of the clock, concerned about traffic.
In the afternoon, that is. If you are having a baby, 4 in the morning is a much better drive time on the Outer Loop. It was so clear that, I didn't have to stay between the lines, technically.
I drove out to get her a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger the day after the delivery.
Drove the baby home the day after that.
That night, we needed the proper kind of bottle, one with a low-flow nipple. They said Target carried them, so I assumed that Wal-Mart would have the brand. No such luck.
They used to have them, but no longer.
Timing is the family curse.
So after driving to Wal-Mart in Rock Hill, I head on out to Super Target in Lake Wylie. They had just closed. A store worker outside said to try, they were closing, not closed. I went in, but the security guard told me they were closed.
Timing is the family curse.
I tried the Super Wal-Mart on 49 and 485. No such luck.
My wife called. They had the brand at the CVS a half mile from our house. When I get there, it wasn't the right size/age nipple. But I got it anyway. About 50 miles right there.
The following Monday, I drove to go shopping. The following Tuesday, I drove to the pediatrician. The following Wednesday, drove to the lactation consultant.
The following Thursday, drove with my brother to get a late lunch for the visiting family.
My lovely bride is not allowed to pick up anything heavier than the baby, so the car seat and the baby are, by definition, heavier. So I have to take them everywhere.
The following Friday, and I went to get a new phone because our old one burned out and we need something that works. Can't have just two phones in the house with people sometimes calling around the clock.
It's a good thing I filled up the tank in my car when I went to the first Wal-Mar.
But the price of gas had not yet dipped below $2 a gallon.
So I'm a Dad, trying to figure it out.
I knewthe D would be for Dad.
But D is also, apparently, for driving.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Saw 'World Trade Center'

You can click above or click here to read about my reaction.
I'm trying to get a photo into the column, but it's giving me fits.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Everyone has to talk about it today, 9/11.
Where were you on 9/11.
I saw it happen. The second plane that is. I wasn't there, but I was watching on television when the second plane hit.
I heard about the first plane from a radio show in on WDOG in Allendale, S.C.
I was actually going to be to work on that day early. I was out the door, almost, when I heard Carl talk about the first plane.
I had Dish Network then. Instead of local network channels, I lived in the coolest of the cool, network feeds from New York City AND the West Coast.
I happened to have CNN on when it hit.
We are at war, I thought to myself. I didn't have a clue with whom, and I didn't think it would be particularly a wise thought thunk only by me. But I said it that second.
Then i started worrying about my cousins who lived in New York City. They were in the Bronx and Yonkers and generally didn't get that far down into Manhattan, but they were close and I was not.
So I worried.
The worry kind of created one of the stupidest thoughts I ever had in my career as a newspaper. I wasn't thinking straight. I went into work, got down to doing the paper, but actually said, at one point, this isn't a local story.
I was given a virtual kick in the butt. On top of a lot of other things, my editor was leaving that week, so I knew my news staff was going from three, with me and him, to two, with me and one other. My work load was going up in a week anyway, but I had a lot of distractions.
Add in the fact that the World Trade Center was my favorite place to go to in the city. No, I wasn't thinking straight for a second.
By the time the towers started falling, I was in high gear. I actually got a tip from a source in the National Guard that they were planning to mobilize, and I think we had a great lead.
I went home, got my own pictures of the towers and Lower Manhattan and used them to illustrate our coverage. Another paper in our company had an AP picture on its front page.
I considered it theft. I had my own pictures, a scoop. I used a picture my father had once bought of Lower Manhattan and used it to make a cartoon. I wrote an editorial cribbing from FDR's Pearl Harbor declaration of war. We had a picture of people watching the coverage at a local restaurant, my favorite hangout in Barnwell, Anthony's. I didn't even mind, as I normally might have, that our ad manager was there in the shot, from the back.
We got our paper out on time, as we did, most of the time.
And I went home. I talked to my girlfriend, now my wife. Talked to my folks throughout the day.
But on that day, I knew how it would end. Me, in front of the television, watching too too much coverage, and wondering what had happened and who had done this.
In my editortal, I warned against making leaps to judgment. When the federal building in Oklahoma had been bombed, people remembering the first strike at the World Trade Center, had assumed it was again Arab terrorists. How wrong they were then. I didn't say it wasn't, but I just wanted Americans to wait until we knew who had done it before we started unleashing what I call a righteous rage.
Some who took that to mean I thought it wasn't Arab terrorists were wrong to assume I said that. But, if so, how wrong I was.
I was flipping back from the major networks to the local news feeds and I was amazed how some of the local New York stations were doing what I thought was better jobs than the major networks.
Chuck Scarborough, an anchor who had been in New York City when I moved to South Carolina, was one I remember watching. The local New York Superstations had some amazing stuff.
One station, I don't remember which, had a scoop citing unnamed FBI sources. Another had something about the airports remaining closed. I can't remember it all, I just remember the local guys were doing a better job covering the disaster than the big boys.
Granted, a "local" station in New York City is a different animal than a local affiliate newscast in Charlotte or Columbia or Greenville-Spartanburg. But it was what it was.
I had rage, but nowhere to direct it.
I went to bed, eventually. There was nothing else to be done.
I woke up into a different world. The one we are in now.
Some would say it is a more frightening world, but they aren't as right as they intend.
Hate is rampant. Some of it is hate directed at us by what is now called "Islamo-fascists." I know the people that term refers to, but I think the term is meaningless.
Since 9/11, however, the hate that frightens me has been in this country, with our own people directing it at others among us. Hearing a call for profiling and how "profiling" is a good thing is just part of it.
The partisan rancor in our halls of government to me says this isn't the same country I grew up in. American people condoning torture, that's just not the America I grew up in. A person I considered a friend believes, apparently, that we ought to be cutting off as many heads as our enemy. More.
I don't want to be the person who gives that command to our troops.
I still have faith that we can win this war. But not if we adopt the ways of our enemy.
A principle that is discarded when times get tough was never a principle. It was just an empty platitude to make one think he or she is better than he or she is in reality.
I do not want to lose this war. We can win it by being the great people we have always been. We can fight the war as strongly as we need to fight it, without succumbing to the temptation to do evil ourselves.
But I do not want to win by bcoming less than we were. So I'm willing to risk losing this war on that score.
It is the eve of 9/11's fifth anniversary. Some day, I hope to remember that it united us a second time. It united us then. But we are divided now.
I can't think any more on it.
My wife and I are about two weeks away from bringing a child into this dangerous world. I pray to God that we are bringer him, her, into a world where being an American means you are thought of as the good guys.
God bless those who died, and God bless America.