Happy Father’s Day – Special Recession Edition

June 21, 2009

“I see you everyday taking your daughter and dog for a walk,” the eight-year-old girl said while running her tiny right hand along the back of my Shepherd-Rotty mix, Kona, before continuing, “You’re a good daddy.”

“Thank you, Stephanie. We like our walks. We go on two or three of them a day.”

“You don’t have a job, do you.”

And there it was… It was more of a statement than a question.

“I have a job. I’m a daddy.”

“No, I mean a real job.”

In some weird way, I felt the need to defend my situation to an eight-year-old girl. I didn’t quite know how to explain to Stephanie that being a stay-at-home dad IS a job, and a very hard one at that. I decided to keep it simple.

“Well Stephanie, my wife works and I stay home with the baby.”

Not looking up from petting Kona, she responded, “That’s weird.”

I have been home with my Isabel since she was two-months-old (she is now almost seven-months-old).  My wife and I didn’t plan that I was going to be the one to stay home and care for our daughter. We had other plans that all fell by the wayside, and we were left with few other options.

What tilted the scales? The economy. Or to be more precise, the lack thereof. Like a broken record, let’s all say it together – THE RECESSION.

I know, I know, at this point we’re all sick and tired of hearing about “THE RECESSION,” but there is no denying that we are all in it together.

My 9-to5 job in the construction trade of seismic retrofitting was greatly affected when banks got stricter about handing out loans back in August of 2008. Ever since then, a 40hr work week was a rarity cherished by all on the crew. When Isabel was born I took one day off to get my wife and new baby settled in before continuing to work while there was work to be had. The jobs were sporadic right up until December 31st, and then they stopped completely.

Lucky for us, my wife was able to arrange working from home for the next three months, so at least we knew we had some money coming in. Our situation is different than that of most people in the U.S.A. We are in the entertainment industry, a very fickle business even without factoring in the current economic situation. She’s a freelance producer/writer and I’m an actor/writer. On any given day, only 2% of actors are working. Unfortunately, I’m usually on the other side of that percentage scale. Since I couldn’t count on me suddenly booking something as an actor, I had to rely on one of my many other skills. Throughout the month of January I got odd jobs here and there doing handy-man work.

“I need you home, Honey,” my wife said to me from behind exhausted eyes a month into her stretch working from home. Between working and caring for our newborn, she wasn’t getting any sleep.

We did some number crunching and figured out that if I worked a 40hr week (which the number of times I had since August of 2008 could be counted on one hand) and paid for child care, by week’s end I would have made $100 for the household. Twenty years from now was I going to remember that $100 a week extra I made crawling under houses all over Los Angeles, or the time I spent with my daughter? The decision was easy. From that moment on, I became a stay-at-home dad.

Here we are, first time parents, living off of one income and counting every penny. And we have never been happier.

In a way, the recession has made everyone know what it’s like to live the life of an actor; forced to live on a budget, constantly looking for work and rethinking career decisions. I’ve been living in a “recession” since I moved to Los Angeles in 1992.

“I have to go home now,” Stephanie said as she kissed Kona on the muzzle.

“You live in that house there?” I asked, pointing across the street.

“Yup,” she said, this time hugging Kona.

Since I became a stay-at-home dad, or a S.A.H.D. (such a misleading acronym if there ever was one), I have been taking daily walks with Isabel and Kona. One of the benefits of these walks has been the privilege of meeting my neighbors. For example, I have noticed a lot of different people coming in and out of Stephanie’s house.

“How many people live with you Stephanie?”

“My mom, my dad, my brother, a few of my aunts and uncles and some cousins, a few friends of my dad…”

I interrupted her because one individual in particular stuck out to me. “What about the man in the truck out in front of your house?” I had been dying to ask someone about him because I had noticed that if the truck was there he was always inside it or on the porch of the house.

“He’s a friend of my dad’s. That’s where he lives. I have to go.” And with that she crossed the street, walking in front of the truck parked next to her house, while the man who lived in it downed a beer and listened to the radio.

He noticed me watching Stephanie run home and he raised his hand up giving me a wave. I waved back and continued with my walk.

“We’re very fortunate,” I thought to myself as I rounded the corner and took one last look at the true victims of this recession.

Before my daughter was born, I asked my friends who are parents for their best piece of advice. It was overwhelmingly the same piece of advice: Enjoy every moment. They grow up quickly.

And that is what I did – and continue to do – everyday.

This is a very special father’s day for me for a few reasons. First of all, because it’s my first one as someone’s dad. Secondly, I can honestly say that I have a newfound respect for my father and all his hard work over the years. Not only did he provide me with a roof over my head and food on the table, but along the way he also showed me how to extend both my arms and my heart to my children, as well as to those around me. He is the very definition of teaching by example.

Recently someone said to me, “You must be a great dad, Jason, because Isabel is such a happy baby. Don’t you ever forget the impact a father has on his children, and I’m talking right from the moment they are born. Know that whatever you’re doing, it must be working, so keep doing it.”

Stay-at-home dads are a rare breed, and it’s the toughest, most rewarding job that I have ever known. I was even fortunate enough to find a “Mommies’ Group” that has opened their elite club to Isabel and me. (I never realized that most mommy groups don’t allow men because of the whole “breastfeeding” thing.) I know that some dads get all “macho” and will refuse to stay home while their wives go out and work. I’ve never understood that mentality, and it’s their loss. My wife and I will do what has to be done for the benefit of our family. Believe me, she wanted nothing more than to be at home with our little one, but she knew that she had to do what was going to be best for our family.

This father’s day I want to celebrate more than to be celebrated. I am extremely lucky and grateful to be a stay-at-home dad, and I hope to make it last as long as I can. Through a true twist of irony, I have the current recession to thank for it.

During these unsure times when you think it’s tough, I want you to remember that at least you don’t have to live in your truck while you wait out the hard times.

Happy Father’s Day!
I am a Stay-At-Home Dad


Pooper Scooper

March 7, 2009

“Just take this in there and scoop the poop out of the diaper with the spoon provided.”

“Excuse me?” I said utterly bewildered with newness to daddy-hood.

Maybe I should back up a little bit. I know that I’m still very new to this being a parent thing, hell, our daughter is three months old but what this day held in store for me I didn’t sign up for when I agreed to impregnate my wife.

Earlier this morning my wife and I took our daughter to the doctors. I’ve never been a fan of doctors (what man really is?) but I like our daughter’s pediatrician.

“Hey guys, what’s going on today?” Dr. Sloan asked. As doctors do.

“Well,” my wife took control of the situation. As wives do. “Her poops have been smelling like ammonia for the past two days and we’re concerned.”

When she says “we’re concerned” she really means “she’s concerned”. I’m more old school and kept saying, “Whatever she’s got she’ll shit it out.”

“Does she have a fever?” Dr. Sloan asked.

“No.” My wife answered.

“How about a loss of appetite?”

“No.”

“Has she been fussy?”

“Nope.”

This is where I wanted to say, “See, for once, I’m right.” But as always, I wasn’t.

“Well, I’m going to write you a prescription.”

“For what?” I thought to myself. Didn’t my wife just say that our kids fine other than her poop smelling like ammonia? Well, it turns out that you need a prescription to have specialist examine your child’s stool sample. Only in America.

Scribbling on her note pad she said, “When she has her next stool sample, keep the diaper and take it to this address.” She tore the paper from her doctor notepad and handed it to us.

So I did as I was instructed. The next time baby pooped, I put the evidence into a gallon sized zip lock bag and took it to the laboratory. While signing in they place a large sandwich size zip lock bag in front of me. On it, in huge black bold capital letters read the word “BIOHAZARD”.

“Here you go.” I said, while attempting to hand them my zip lock bag full of soiled diaper.

“Ha, ha, ha…no Mr. Lassen. You have to transfer the sample from the diaper into a plastic cup. Just take this in there and scoop the poop out of the diaper with the spoon provided.”

“Excuse me?” I said utterly bewildered with newness to daddy-hood.

“Here are some plastic gloves for you. Bathrooms right there to your left.”

I felt dirty.

I thought to myself, “Let me get this straight. You want me to go and scrape the poop out of my daughter’s hour’s old dirty diaper with a spoon and put it in a plastic cup?” I know times are tough in this current economy but who knew that the first to be let go from laboratories were the “dirty diaper shit scrapers.”

“Make sure to get as much as you can. I find that it’s sometimes better to use the cup itself to scoop up the sample rather then use the spoon.”

I rolled up my sleeves, looked them all in the eyes, “That sounded like a challenge. And I accept you challenge.” I grabbed my bags and made my way to the bathroom. I strategically placed all the items in front of me in order of their use from left to right. First up, the green plastic gloves, so that the shit sample doesn’t get contaminated. It’s odd when the priority is to not get shit on your hands for the shits sake. “Shit getting contaminated.” It just made me laugh. All of us men are really 12 year old boys at heart and I’m no exception. Juvenile moment over, back to work.

I struggled slipping the tiny green glove over my big paw that I call a left hand.

“RRRRIIIIIPPPPPPP!”

Fuck.

I popped my head out of the bathroom door. “Excuse me. Can I get another glove?”

They all laughed and I was handed another green glove.

Maybe it’ll go on easier if I place it on my hand as far as it go, blow into it and it’ll inflate it?

“POP!”

Nope.

Before I could open the bathroom door to ask for yet, another green glove, there was a knock at the door.

“Occupied.” I said prying the broken glove off my hand.

“Mr. Lassen, it sounded to us out here like you are in need of another glove.”

I opened the door and the nice man laughing handed me another green glove.

After some careful struggling, I got the gloves on.

The smell that wafted out of the zip lock bag with the grubby diaper when I un-zipped it was… well, it was not pleasant. And I grew up on a farm, so I know “unpleasant” smells. It didn’t help any that it had a few hours to ferment. I placed the plastic cup down, unscrew the cap and place it on a paper towel. I was not about to get shit all over the place except for in the cup or on my nifty green gloves. I unwrapped the spoon from its wrapper.

“What the fuck is this?”

It was a tongue depressor not a spoon.

“Great. Just great.”

While I was standing there in my tight green gloves, scraping shit out of my daughter’s soiled diaper with a tongue depressor I thought to myself, “Now, I know and have known many people with kids, and I have NEVER heard of anyone else EVER having to do this. This is the type of things parents don’t tell people thinking about having kids because if they did, those people would get a hamster instead.”

I came out of the bathroom, mission accomplished.

“Thank you Mr. Lassen.”

“Oh no, thank you for this experience.”

“Ummm, Mr. Lassen?”

“Yes.” I said proudly, expecting him to complement me on my immaculate shit scraping skills. I was wrong.

“This may not be enough. Did you get as much as you could?”

“There wasn’t much to get.”

He reached behind the counter and handed me another plastic zip lock bag with the word, “BIOHAZARD!” written on it. Inside it was a set of green plastic gloves, a plastic cup and a “spoon”.

“We may need you to collect more samples if this isn’t enough to perform all the test. We’ll call and let you know.”

“And that’s one call I’ll be looking forward to. Thank you kind sir.”

“Have a good weekend Mr. Lassen.”

“You to.” It’ll be best if I don’t have to treasure hunting in my daughter’s diaper anymore.

Oh, the things we parents do for our kids. I’m just finding out and I have a feeling that this is only the beginning.

I AM a Purple Dino Type


Halloween in Da “Wood”

October 28, 2008

I love Halloween.

Other than my birthday it’s one of my favorite holidays.

If your birthday is in October, more likely than not if you have a party it’s going to be a combo birthday/Halloween party. How cool is that? October is the one month out of the year when I’m not the only one putting on a costume for the party. Bring on the “Naughty Nurse” or “Slutty School Girl” outfits, mommies. It’s great when the mommies at parties get dressed up and try to prove to other mommies that they are a “MILF.”

Unfortunately, this is not true for all mommies.

I had a one-hour clown in Inglewood, i.e., “the Wood,” for a child’s birthday/Halloween party. I showed up and none of the adults were dressed up, unless you count having major attitude as a costume.

I did my usually thing and played with the kids. Halfway through the party the mom came stomping up to me and looked pissed off.

“You better do face paint. I paid for face paint, I’m gonna’ git face paint, god damn-it!” All this was said while she waved her fat finger around in my face.

“Ok. I can do that.” It’s the least I could do since you asked so nicely.

So I painted faces, god damn-it.

Once I was done I started to put my paints away when the mom came over and plopped herself down in the chair in front of me.

“You ain’t done yet, clown!” She exclaimed as she put her fat finger back to work and pointed to her face.

“What would you like me to paint on your face?” I asked as nicely as I could because that’s my way.

“I WANT you to put a fucking red heart on my left check. And don’t make it look all stupid and stuff. It better be fucking cute or I ain’t payin’ yo’ ass. You got that, clown?”

“One very cute, red heart coming up.” You stupid bitch.

“And once yo’ done wid dat, I WANT you to paint my baby daddy’s name on my arm. Right here, clown. Do yo’ hear me?” And she stuck out her tremendously huge arm. If she had asked me to write the Declaration of Independence on her arm I could have, her arm was that big. And yet her arm was dwarfed by her ginormous attitude.

“I can do that.” I should’ve gotten an academy award for my performance that day as, “The Patient Clown.”

“Yo’ betta’ not fuck it up either. Or I ain’t payin’ yo’. Yo’ got that, clown?”

Someone took her “I’m a bitch” pill today.

The baby daddy came over to watch me immortalize his name on his baby momma’s arm. Lucky guy.

“Hey, clown. Do you know how to do anything with helium balloons?”

“No.”

He didn’t need to know that I once worked at a balloon store and could make balloon sculptures that would blow his mind. If they had been nicer to me I would’ve most likely done something small, yet impressive.

I’m a pushover that way.

Too bad his baby momma was such a bitch to me. I feel sorry for the guy.

Note to self: Don’t knock up a crazy bitch.

I AM a Purple Dino Type


LOVE VS. SMOKING

September 19, 2008

“What’s your name?”

“My name’s Kimberly, Santa.”

“That’s a beautiful name Kimberly. How old are you?”

“I’m eight.”

“If you just ate then you’re not hungry.”

Kimberly laughed, “NO! I’m eight years old.”

“Sorry about that, Santa must have snow in his ears. Do you know what you want for Christmas, Kimberly?”

“I want my dad to stop smoking. If he dies, I won’t feel bad ‘cause I’ve asked him a thousand times to stop and he won’t. He must love smoking more than he loves me.”

Yeah… What do you say to that? I was not expecting that at all. A hush had fallen over the room. I could see all the adults’ faces frozen in shock. I’m sure my face was also frozen in a state of shock, but it couldn’t be seen because it was covered in a fake beard and sweat. I composed myself and did what every adult in that room wanted to do. Change the subject.

“Do you like Furby’s, Kimberly?”

“Yup.”

“That’s good. I do, too. Maybe you’ll get one for Christmas this year since you’ve been so good. I think I have a gift here for you.” I quickly grabbed the gift for Kimberly from the adolescent helper assigned to me by our hostess. “Merry Christmas, Kimberly. Ok, who’s next? Is there anyone else left?”

Now I know what you’re thinking: Why a Christmas story in the middle of September?
Well, Kimberly’s words have been reverberating in my brain and in my thoughts frequently as of late. My mother is a smoker and last week it finally caught up with her. She had a heart attack.

Am I sad?

Yes.

Am I shocked?

No.

I’ve always told my wife that I knew that this day would come. I was never sure who it was going to “attack” first, my Mom or my Dad. You’re never really ready for it, even when you know that it’s inevitable. No one ever wants to be reminded that his mother is mortal and will not be around forever.

Every time I tried to sit and write for my blog (or write anything for that matter) my thoughts always go back to my mother. Finally, after many hours suffering staring at a blank page my wife said, “Just write about what’s on your mind.” So I am.

It has been many years since I heard Kimberly’s sad insight, but I can hear her voice as clear as if she just spoke to me. She was so brutally honest. I, too, had begged my parents to stop smoking when I was younger. Now that I’m older I have a better understanding of why it’s so hard to give it up. But I know that it is possible to quit. My mom’s mom, who everyone referred to as Nana, used to smoke. I once asked her how she was able to stop.

“I had a heart attack. The doctor said that if I didn’t quit I would have another one and eventually die. I came home, threw away all my smokes and have never touched one since. It was easy.”

My Nana was a very “tell it like it is” gal. She had her heart attack when she was around 70 years old and lived to be 90. She had 20 extra years with us, and I know that we all benefited and are thankful for her strength. My mom is a virtual carbon copy of her mom. I pray that she continues to be, and follows the lead laid down by her mother.

I’ve had a lot of friends offer up personal stories of hope of someone close to them having to go cold turkey and succeeding. “My dad quit 10 years ago and we just celebrated his 70th birthday.”

I’ve also had friends tell me stories with a not-so-happy ending. “Your mom got really lucky and has been given a second chance. My dad had one; it was his first and last.”

My mom works in a hospital and I believe that is what saved her life. My parents live so far out in the “boonies” that you have to drive 20 minutes before you reach the “Middle of Nowhere” just south of “Where the Hell Are We?” If she had been home when it happened who knows how things would’ve played out. The hospital that she works at is so small that she had to be airlifted via helicopter to Dartmouth Medical Center in Hanover New Hampshire. I thought that was pretty cool. Mom, not so much. I guess a helicopter ride is different just after you’ve had a heart attack and are in need of emergency angioplasty?

I thought long and hard about going back to visit her. Money’s tight, my wife’s seven months pregnant and there is a lot of work to be done (and on the cheap, to boot). Hell, when I asked my Mom about visiting she said, “Why? I’m fine.”

But, as my wife put it, “Are you going to remember our credit card bill or that you spent time with your mom?”

My plane ticket is booked and my writer’s block has been lifted. To my readers, thanks for being patient in these, my emotionally trying, times. I love New Hampshire in the fall.

I AM a Purple Dino Type… Now go hug a mom and tell her how much you love her!


Listen to the Purple Dino Type Interview Here

August 30, 2008

Hello All.

For those of you that missed the live interview that I did with Marc Germain over at Talk Radio One… here’s your second chance to give it a listen. Just click on the following link and press play.

Purple Dino Type Blog Interview on Talk Radio One 08.28.08

I want to personally thank everyone who did listen in live and have already given me feedback.

“Thank you and thanks for the support.”

I AM a Purple Dino Type… are you?


READ ALL ABOUT IT! PURPLE DINO TYPE RADIO INTERVIEW!

August 24, 2008

That’s right folks, yours truly is going to be interviewed by Marc Germain on his online radio program at Talk Radio One this coming Thursday. Here’s the info in bold so you can’t miss it…

THURSDAY, AUGUST 28TH, 2008 AT 8PM PST AT http://talkradioone.com/

Here it is again underlined…

THURSDAY, AUGUST 28TH, 2008 AT 8PM PST AT http://talkradioone.com/

One more time with the works: BOLD, UNDERLINED, AND ITALICIZED

THURSDAY, AUGUST 28TH, 2008 AT 8PM PST AT http://talkradioone.com/

Here’s some info on Marc, direct from the source (http://talkradioone.com/)…

You may have known him as Mr. KFI or Mr. KABC where he created and hosted top rated shows. His honest, straight-forward manner has won him many fans as well as a series of stalkers resulting in both adulation and restraining orders.

Born deficient of the sports gene, he compensates with an uber-love affair with all things internal combustion. Mr. K spends his copious free time sequestered in his tarpaper shack where he scribbles furiously on his latest manifesto.

A local boy from the mean streets of Woodland Hills, Marc is a graduate from U.C. Santa Barbara (class of ’89) with a degree in Political Science, where he was voted Boy Most Likely to End Up In Radio. Not one of the more prestigious awards, yet proof he is living his destiny.

Marc lives with his wife, two children, a dog, a cat, and other various and sundry animals of varying life expectancies.

Now a little something about me…

I like green.

Thanks, and hope you can listen in.

I have no idea what I’m going to wear? Suggestions?

I AM a Purple Dino Type


CLOWNING:101

August 18, 2008

“You want me to be Barney? As in Barney the dinosaur?”

”We don’t use that word in our profession it could get us sued. We refer to him as a ‘ purple dino type.’ Now let’s work on some balloon animals.”

By now, you all know that I AM a Purple Dino Type… But perhaps you’re wondering how I became a purple dino type.

Well, once upon a time in Los Angeles, there was this guy who was down and out on his luck (me). I had witnessed a woman commit suicide by jumping off a bridge onto a freeway, my 3 year old nephew had passed away and my roommate decided he would do us a “favor” and blow his brains out. And this all happened within a 6 month period. Good times.

After much debate and inner turmoil about whether or not to return home to New Hampshire, where going to Walmart is considered exciting, I decided to give good ol’ LA another go. But I was going to need another job. After all, what actor in Los Angeles doesn’t need more than one job?

As it happened, my pot-head friend Stan had been trying to convince me for the past year and a half to give kids’ birthday parties a chance. Kids’ birthday parties? When I was a kid, an exciting birthday party was one where we got to go to Burger King with a group of friends and wear a paper crown for the day. Here in LA, an exciting birthday party apparently included a bounce, a petting zoo and an entertainer to make sure all the ADD kids are kept out of their parents’ hair. Because God forbid they should have to actually parent their kids. That’s where the “purple dino type” enters the picture.

So in my desperation to remain in LA, I decided to let Stan talk me into fooling his bosses into thinking that I was a kids’ party pro so that I could perform at a party the next day. His bosses had a reputable company, and would obviously be reluctant to let a complete stranger perform at a party for their clients without being assured that this person was competent. And so the lessons began: Clowning 101 was officially in session.

Stan went over basic balloon animals: cat, dog, horse, hat, sword and glasses. Strange that these were the “basics,” I know. He gave me a quick overview of the basic flow of a party. And with that, we were ready to go meet the bosses.

“Oh, by the way,” Stan said, “I told them you’ve been doing this for years. So put on your actor’s hat and pretend you’re a pro, OK?”

I drove us there in the pouring rain, the whole time going over balloon animals in my head. OK, I can do this, I thought to myself. When we arrived at the house, the bosses were apparently having a party of their own. We wandered through a sea of people until finding them, and then Stan made his big introductions.

“Jason, meet Ross and Rachel. Ross and Rachel, meet Jason.”

After the introductions, we made some small talk. It didn’t take long, however, before Ross dove right into the 3rd degree.

“So what parachute games do you play?”

Parachute games? What the fuck? Were these kids’ birthday parties or espionage? I had no idea what the hell he was talking about, and I’m sure the blank expression on my face gave that away.

“Which ones do you like?” I asked him hoping to get the heat off of me. It didn’t work.

Ross went on to say, “Oh you know, the regular games.”

“I make balloon animals,” I quickly interjected, trying to point out something I actually did know.

“Really? Before or after you do the parachute?”

Son of a bitch! Now he was just being cruel.

By now it was so painfully evident that I had no clue what he was talking about that it was even killing me. I wanted to throw my hands up and call it a day. “You got me. I have no fucking clue what the fuck I’m talking about. Game over. Thanks for playing.”

But miraculously, just when I thought Ross was going to call my bluff, he smiled and said, “Have fun at the party tomorrow.”

Did that really just happen? Was this really my introduction into the world of kids’ parties? You bet your ass it was.

Back at Stan’s place, he pulled out a parachute and showed me what it was and how to use it. It was literally a parachute, except that instead of being big and white, it was big and very colorful. Maybe this was espionage after all.

As I was leaving Stan’s, he could tell I was nervous about performing at my first kids’ party ever, so he offered some words of “comfort.”

“Remember, you’re an actor. So act like Barney.”

“That’s Mr. Purple Dino Type to you,” I replied, as I walked down the stairs and onward toward an adventure where the good guy always wins. Well, usually, anyway.

I AM a Purple Dino Type.


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