Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Many Life-Stages of IKEA

I was in IKEA recently. That’s when it really hit me. IKEA is the kind of place you only go to at certain stages of your life. Like Chuck E Cheese’s, or the Proctologist.

July 15th is coming upon us like a freight train and there is still a million things to do before the baby gets here. We decided to go to IKEA to buy four shelves. One for Bella’s toys, one for the new baby and two for me in the new garage/office. We also needed a toy box. The toy box was out of stock and we realized we needed a bigger shelf which wouldn’t fit in our car. Then Bella beamed another kid in the head with one of the inflatable balls at the kid’s section. Bad behavior, but good arm. Anyway, it was a wasted trip. So I decided to come back a few days later with my friend’s SUV. It was a Honda CRV so I didn’t feel too guilty about it.

That’s when it hit me. You only go to IKEA at certain times in your life. The first time is usually when you need crappy furniture for your dorm or college apartment. Then you go again after college when you need more crappy furniture for your first crappy post college apartment.

Then, there’s a break. You get married, buy a house, and then you and your spouse both say, “Fuck IKEA. I want some nice furniture for a change.” So you buy some nice furniture, and then a child is born, you buy a baby set, and then a new set of furniture when they’re a toddler and then you think you’re done for a while.

Oh, no. Then the second baby comes and you wonder how the hell you’re going to afford it. You realize you’ve kept everything from the first baby but now you’re still paying off your toddler’s furniture. Sure, no interest for a year sounded great at the time… but “that year goes by so fast…”

So we needed more stuff. We didn’t use the word crappy. We used “cheaper”. So it was back to IKEA. Four bookcases for $200. Of course, you have to go into the stockroom and get them yourself and put them together like a Neanderthal, but oooh, the savings! And will our new son care that his bookshelf is made out of pressed paper and wood by-product? Eventually yes, but not for a while. We got him a nice picture of a rocket to distract him.

So God Bless ‘em, IKEA knows their market. Now that I think about it, after college when I was in there buying a table and chairs, I think the cashier looked at me funny. I couldn’t figure it out at the time but now I know that wily cashier was giving me a knowing look that was saying, “You’ll be back.”

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day Solid

Father’s Day, like Mother’s Day, takes on a whole new meaning when you have a kid. But this time, instead of running around at the last minute for a present for my wife I get to be on the receiving end of the parenty goodness.

Bella woke up with growing pains (yes, they really do exist, and it’s not just a contrived Allan Thicke/Kirk Cameron television show) early in the morning. So Father’s Day started at 4:30 am in our house. We brought Bella in bed with us. Bringing a toddler in your bed is pretty much a guarantee that no one is sleeping anymore in your house, from you, your wife, to the cat. After getting kicked repeatedly in the back I went to sleep in Bella’s bed for another hour or two. You know, because it was Father’s Day.

A few days earlier I was allowed to get my most awesome Father’s Day present. I had been saving up for a Playstation 3 and went on to bore my wife about the best model, backwards compatibility, HDMI inputs, HD resolutions and the scarcity of the Metal Gear Sold 4 bundle. Her eyes just glazed over and then she just said the same thing every wife says: “How much?”

I went on to explain if I added up what I already had saved from my birthday money (I realize this makes me sound like a 12 year old) and bought it at Target and got 10% off for applying for the Target Card it would be reasonable. The thing is, I had just finished three full days of moving my office into the garage and painting the new baby’s room so I had a little fatherly credit at that point. Oh, and I spent it. On high definition gaming goodness. Now I can see more detail when I blow shit up.

Funny thing was I had just dropped Bella off at daycare and went to Target the morning of the release of the new Metal Gear Solid Playstation 3 bundle. I got there and there was already a guy in front of me buying one. He had his infant in a carrier beside him. We looked at each other. We both had the same idea. He bought his, picked up his infant, looked at me, and said “have fun.”

And I did. I got a new Playstation, went out to dinner with Audge and Bella and had a great Father’s Day. All in high def.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Why does the entertainment industry think fathers are all assholes?

As a lot of you know, I’ve been writing a book on fatherhood for a while. I’m new to the whole book writing thing and it’s been quite an experience so far. In fact, although I’ve been working on it for a while I really feel like the process is just starting.

I was determined that if I couldn’t get a book agent or a publisher I would self publish and either way my book would be out there. But my friends encouraged me to really try the agent route, so I did.

I got some very odd responses and it surprised me a bit. Mainly agents, producers, and every other gatekeeper in the entertainment business just say no. They don’t like your stuff or they don’t know what to do with it. Fine. Art in every medium is subjective.

But the response I was getting from book agents was a no but not because of the content. It was a no because of an outdated incorrect stereotype of men and fathers. “Men don’t read.” “Men don’t care about fatherhood books” “Fatherhood books don’t sell” “No publisher wants a fatherhood book. It just doesn’t work.”

Men don’t READ?! That’s like saying women don’t drive. Now, I did my research. It’s a tough market. Which is a ludicrous statement. EVERY market is a tough market. I have NEVER heard anyone say, "It's a really easy market. I don't know why there aren't more millionaires, since the market is so easy. Really, you don't have to do much of anything and there's no competiton."

There are successful fatherhood books and successful humorous ones. But why is the market tough? Because of the above reasons? Of course not. The reason is that the books on the shelves are themselves outdated and nothing new or interesting is available. Have you ever read a fatherhood book? You may as well read "Crime and Punishment." See which one you finish first, and which one you get more out of. They are outdated and even the humorous ones are watered down and feel like they are written for women as if that is somehow the same market.

Television is no better when it comes to treating fathers like assholes. Please, no more sitcoms about overweight incompetent Dads married to attractive women who “love them anyway.” I’m not even sure which part is more in the realm of patriarchal fantasy. So every guy is an overweight incompetent buffoon who lets his hot wife raise his kids. Got it. Great. Thanks, Hollywood.

At least in movies we get “Kramer vs. Kramer”. That was an amazing movie. But for every Kramer Vs Kramer there’s a hundred fathers who are “good cops” but never have time to make their marriages work or see their kids…. Blah blah blah….

Market has nothing to do with it. If people are interested in something, they will find it. They may even buy it. In he age of the internet, it really is that simple. Type the most fucked up thing you can think of into YouTube. Not only will it be there, but there will be thousands of views. Not that I've tried it... I've just heard. One thing some entertainment people never get: You can't chase a market or a trend because you're always going to be one step behind.

Oh, and I did get an agent. A guy who didn’t even have kids, but saw the potential of the book. The book proposal is on its way to publishers now. Fingers crossed. But like I said, it’s less critical now. With publishing on demand at Amazon and other online places, my book can be sold right next to “Crime and Punishment.” In fact, I may even demand it.

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