Turning the Frightening 4-0


Despite feeling like I’m about 7 years old and still wanting to believe someone can protect me from whatever cruelties exist in the world, I’m turning 40 tomorrow. I planned to blog about how mortified I am about this; how I distinctly remember my father turning 40 and thinking, “Wow, he’s old!”; how deeply depressed I get even when my birthday doesn’t begin with a 4 and end with an 0; how I especially fear February 10, 2014 so much because Elaine won’t arrive home until 9 pm leaving me trying to fight the usual birthday darkness and hold myself together in front of Sienna all day long. But instead, while tossing and turning in bed last night, I decided to go the positive route and list 30 things (because 40 is supposedly the new 30) I never thought I’d experience had you asked me when I graduated college in 1996. So here goes:

1) I’m still alive – I’ve had so many suicidal thoughts that despite never acting on them I suspected one day I might

2) I lost my virginity

3) I didn’t just get married, but I wed the most beautiful, caring (I could go on and on without running out of favorable adjectives) person on the planet


Elaine on our wedding day









4) I survived dozens of panic attacks and 2 nervous breakdowns the latter of which (in 2010) I’m still recovering from

5) On what was one of the most meaningful, near-paralyzing days of my life post-breakdown, I somehow stopped a full-on panic attack right before my wife’s c-section because she was shaking from the fears of being sliced open and becoming a mother which led me to…

6) Becoming a father to a fascinating and gorgeous little girl (who was delivered by Santa Claus) and realizing the majesty of parent

IMG_27287) I found a therapist I eventually came to believe cares about me

8) I reconciled with and developed new relationships with both my father and sister

9) I have the same best friends I’ve had since the ages of 8 (when I met one) and 12 (when I met the other)

My best friends, Sienna and I this in November 2013









10) I had surgery to correct gynecomastia (male breast enlargement) which I suffered from between the ages of 11 and 29 and published a piece about it; I also had laser to remove my back hair leading me to…

11) Take off my shirt in public for the first time since I was 10

12) I received a masters in Media Ecology from NYU

13) A professional actor performed a monologue I wrote

14) Despite extreme anxiety and several public meltdowns, I joined the NYC Dads Group where Lance Somerfield, Matt Schnieder, Jason Greene, Kevin McKeever, Larry Interrante, Danny Giardino and Christoper Persley among others would all cheer me on

15) I started blogging about raising my daughter while battling depression and anxiety

16) I zip-lined through the jungles of Costa Rica

17) I not only saw the Yankees win a World Series, but I witnessed one of the greatest dynasties of all time (1996-2001) and attended a WS game

18) The 2008 MLB All-Star Game Program contained an article featuring me and my disillusionment with how the Yankees have forgotten how to build a team


19) My best friend since I was 8 and I had made a pact when we were 12 or so that when our favorite ballplayers (me: Dave Winfield; he: Ozzie Smith) were inducted into the Hall of Fame, we’d head up to Cooperstown for the ceremonies. They were elected in consecutive years and our childhood promise came to fruition

20) I paraglided in Alaska

get-attachment (1)

Yep, that’s me







21) I discovered a bar in Scotland somehow named after me (though they refused to give me anything on the house even when I showed my passport)

The Lorne

22) During my Contiki trip through Scotland, England and Wales, I actually had 3 girls interested in me (I’d never had ANY girls interested in me before), wound up in a short-lived long-distance relationship with an exquisite woman from California and made numerous Aussie friends which led to…

23) Me traveling to the place I most wanted to visit in the world where I spent New Year’s Eve watching fireworks shoot out of the Harbor Bridge


My friend Derek and I in front of the famed Sydney Opera House



24) Two friends and I put on an impromptu puppet show on the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic and even received some money from tourists

25) I traveled all over Europe, Central America, the Caribbean and North America

26) The former head of the Chinese Mafia (now reformed and a friend of my father’s who worked on his cases) helped me move from Queens to Jersey City

27) Despite my trepidation, I joined a movie club and met some wonderful friends

28) Doug French, co-founder of Dad 2.0, invited me to read one of my blogs (titled “Do I Really Like What I Like“) at the 2014 summit in New Orleans at which I received not just a shocking standing ovation, but so many accolades that I’m still trying to process it


Speaking at Dad 2.0 in New Orleans

29) In the words of fellow dad blogger, Carter Gattis, I think I’ve found my tribe

30) I wrote this blog

Chosen – Dad 2.0 Summit

Last week I was contacted by Doug French, founder of the Dad 2.0 Summit , who let me know that I had been chosen as a Blogger Spotlight Reader for this year’s conference in New Orleans. My initial reactions were shock and humility. “Me? Why me? How? How is this possible?” I actually asked Doug that as we spoke on the phone and he said that he enjoyed my blog and thought I had an important voice. I was told my ticket to the conference would be paid for and that to help save money, Doug would help me find someone with whom I could share a hotel room. Was I willing to go? As we spoke and I stammered my responses, nervousness flooded my veins and my chest felt as if it had been dipped in liquid nitrogen, like a little poke in the ribs would shatter me to pieces. I told Doug I’d have to look into flights and see about that hotel roommate and ask if I could get Sienna coverage and most importantly, see if could overcome my anxiety. Doug said that was fine and to let him know as soon as I could.

The first thing I did – and this is highly significant – was contact Danny Giardino, a friend I’d met through the NYC Dads Group, who had offered to split a room with me when I was debating going to conference a few months ago. I asked if the room was still available. It was and since the first 2 nights were comped, the total cost for my stay would be negligible. Why is this so significant? Because I actually did something instead of crawling into bed and shaking. I took initiative in solving a rooming situation.

Next I contacted my mom about Sienna coverage. She told me she was proud of me and said she and my dad would absolutely be able to watch Sienna on Thursday and Friday. Again significant because I problem-solved.

Then, despite my sense of dread at how things were falling into place, I searched for flights and found one that was doable money-wise. Non-stop both ways on JetBlue.

I then called Elaine and stammered my way through letting her know that I’d been chosen, that the founder of the Dad 2.0 Summit (described on its homepage as  “an open conversation about the commercial power of dads online, and an opportunity to learn the tools and tactics used by influential bloggers to create high-quality content, build personal brands, and develop business ideas”), had read my blog and wanted me to read from it in front of a large audience of fellow Dad Bloggers and marketers and real go-getters in the At-Home Dad community, people so unlike myself, people who don’t cost their child a few hours in the park because they’re too anxious to go outside. Elaine, like my mom, was proud of me, but knowing my anxiety level must be through the roof, she said we’d talk about it when we got home.

As I said earlier, I had debated going to the conference a few months ago, but I felt that I’d be overwhelmed by the marketing and business aspects as well a fear of feeling completely inadequate in the face of so many seasoned bloggers, people whose work is so much better than my own. I’d gone back and forth and back and forth and finally decided it would be too much for me…maybe next year when I’d have done more writing and had a lot more therapy. Now I was being invited by the founder himself and the dominoes were falling leading me to a date in New Orleans in late January.

I called my best friends who told me I absolutely have to go, that is an opportunity of a lifetime and I’d regret it forever if I didn’t answer that knock. I texted my therapist who said the same.

A few hours later after Elaine had come home and we talked a bit more I booked the damn flight before I could change my mind. I took a massive leap, something I almost never do. I let Doug know that I accepted the honor and would indeed be there and he wrote back: “Great news! Thanks again for doing this. You’ll be great. I know it.” I also peppered him with anxiety-related questions: What do I wear? Do I have to look professional? I normally wear jeans and a baseball cap (Aside – I had planned to write about the meaning behind my cap today, but this popped up instead). What happens if I become overwhelmed? Can I leave for a bit? Take a walk? Do I wait for an official announcement? (The announcement was posted today.) I apologized for the frenzied questions and said I hate my brain to which Doug responded, “Don’t hate your brain too much. It’s the reason you write as well as you do.” I didn’t know what to say to that.

My sister- and brother-in-law live in Baton Rouge and want to be there for moral support, but I don’t know if they’d need to pay to see me read. Even if they can’t make it to the conference itself, they want to take the trip to drive me from and to the airport to which I said they’re nuts and was told that they’re a nutty family.

I can tell you that I’m scared out of my mind. I’m terrified of the marketing aspects. I’m frightened I’ll feel eclipsed by the other bloggers there. I’m nervous I’ll feel very alone even though Doug and others have told me that people look out for each other at the Summit, that it’s a community of friendly faces. I’m even afraid I’ll unwittingly walk by Madame Marie Delphine LaLaurie’s mansion (she being the infamous, sadistic slave torturer currently being portrayed by Kathy Bates on American Horror Story: Coven) and I’ll see one of those weird orbs people claim appear when they take photo of the place (ok, I’ll confess, I actually do want to visit the mansion – anyone up for a New Orleans nighttime ghost tour?). I’m anxious people will feel I wasn’t deserving of this honor, that I’m not good enough, that I’ll discover I’m not cut out to be a Dad Blogger. I’m scared I won’t have Elaine with me.

But…I did take those steps to see if I could go and I did it on all my own. That means something. That means a lot. I’m proud of myself for that. And I’m proud I took a leap I don’t think I could have taken even a few months ago. Plus I’ve never been to New Orleans. If there’s time, I’d like to see a few things. I’m also looking forward to meeting so many people who have been supportive of my writing since I joined the Dad Bloggers group. Already some of these fellow bloggers such as Carter Gaddis, Kevin McKeever, John Kinnear have posted personal congrats to me on FB as have people I already know including Lance Somerfield, Jason Greene and Sat Sharma.

I’m nervous as hell, but I’m not letting my anxiety hold me back. Not this time. It’s probably not going to leave me, but come January 30th, we’ll be together at the Dad 2.0 Summit in New Orleans.


Any Given Sunday Guilt Can Be Your Enemy

First I want to thank everyone for all of the comments from my last blog. I’ve been completely overwhelmed by your kindness, so much so that I’ve been unable to fully address your support. I’ve also been paralyzed, my brain taunting: “How am I gonna top what I last wrote??” I’ve been battling that and simultaneously trying to absorb all the wonderful advice and encouragement. I promise to get back to each of you. For now, I have to write about yesterday even though it doesn’t involve Sienna.

For a few years now, my two oldest, closest friends (one friend, whom I met in 2nd grade, lives in Maryland, the other, whom I met in 6th grade, lives in Florida) and I have annually reunited to go to a Giants game; for perspective purposes, we’re all turning 40 next year. The fourth spot in our reunion quartet has changed over the years for one reason or another. This year I decided to invite another old friend who coincidentally also lives in Maryland. We met in 3rd grade, I think, but we fell out of touch for some years post-college. Thanks in part to Facebook it’s like those lost years never happened.

To give you a little background, this friend of mine had an extremely rough childhood. I witnessed harsh verbal and emotional abuse from his parents that eventually led to psychological damage manifesting itself physically as stress-related seizures in JHS and the sudden development of an allergy array that boggled the mind. His allergies have since abated, but the seizures have followed him into adulthood, through two bad marriages, high pressure jobs, etc. Thankfully he’s happier now than he’s ever been. I was very protective of my friend when we were kids (I still am), always telling my parents about what he went through, but they felt I  exaggerated because knowing his parents, they couldn’t believe some of the things I described most of which they couldn’t have done anything about, but a couple of which directly involved me. I held this grudge against my parents until it was finally resolved in family therapy a few years ago, but it helped establish in me a deep-rooted need to be understood and believed that remains to this day. It’s partly the reason why I write this blog – to be understood.

Anyway, we chose the game in July, but as the day neared, my friend discovered he couldn’t get away Saturday and needed to be at work early Monday morning so he decided to drive up Sunday morning and then drive back right after the game (I thought this was audacious, even nuts, but I deferred because he so wanted to go).

When my friend from Florida arrived on Friday, we happened to meet up with another one of our good friends from elementary school. I mentioned our annual tradition and how our fourth for this year was facing a crazy schedule. I asked if should my friend have to cancel, would he be interested in going to which I got a hearty yes. I thought it was logical to secure a backup just in case, but I never imagined what would unfurl.

Four and a half hours before the game I got a text from my friend saying that he’d had a seizure while driving and totaled his car. He was unhurt, somewhere in New Jersey, and still wanted to go to the game. His closest friends, (two very sweet women whom I’ve met on several occasions) were driving from Maryland and he wanted them to take him to the stadium. Shaken and stunned, I called him and said he was acting crazy, that his health was a hell of a lot more important than a football game, and that he needed to go to a hospital and head home. He was adamant about it, though. He wanted to see us. He’d make the game. He hung up because he needed to talk with an officer.

The women were already on their way. I spoke to one of them and begged her to talk my friend into going home. She said he’d had a rough work week but had been looking forward to the game for a long time, building it up. Because she loves him, as do I, she was naturally scared about his health. We were both on the verge of tears. I had a feeling guilt was involved. He didn’t want to let us down. He didn’t want to see the ticket go to waste. I told her I could get a replacement, that he shouldn’t worry about the ticket. She agreed guilt could very well be raising its insidious head. She’d call him.

As I waited, my facial tic started going (it only appears now when I’m severely anxious). I’d been hit by my own guilt wave: I somehow caused this by enlisting a potential replacement. My friend would hate me if I refused his going to the game. Do I tell my other friend and have him come to the stadium with us just in case? If so, would HE hate me if he wound up stuck in a bar instead of at the game?

Guilt and clinical depression go hand-in-hand. Over the last few years I’ve allowed absurd guilt to slash my rational mind to ribbons. My therapist always tells me guilt is a dangerous emotion when it comes to living with depression. It prevents recovery. It prevents living.

Elaine and my other friends were trying to calm me down, telling me I was being irrational. I tried to listen, but my brain wouldn’t compute. This was somehow my fault via some ridiculous cosmic event.

My friend called back. He’d decided he was too shaken to go and was just going to go home. The truth was he did feel guilty about the ticket and about not seeing us. Through tears I told him I loved him. I said we’d make a plan to visit him, maybe even watch an old Giants game. His health superseded everything. My other friends agreed. We all took turns talking to him, making sure he was ok, telling him not going to the game was the smart move. When he hung up, my emotions collapsed and I started crying in front of Elaine, my friends, and worst of all, Sienna. Elaine took me into another room to hug and soothe me, constantly telling me it wasn’t my fault.

Eventually I settled down and the four of us headed out. We had a good time, but I couldn’t shake the guilt. Several times my friends had to tell me I was being ludicrous. I kept pictured my friend in Maryland curled up, beating himself up because he’d disappointed us and himself. At one point I had to take a walk. It took until the second half to untether myself, to mostly (still not completely) stop the guilt from eating away at this reunion of my closest friends. Although I couldn’t really get into the game, I did manage to joke around and talk and remember how lucky I was to have these people in my life. I also got a text that my friend had made it home safe and sound.

Guilt almost made my friend make a terrible decision that put his health in jeopardy. Meanwhile, my own crazy guilt nearly sucked any enjoyment from seeing my closest friends. Thankfully we both were able to eventually overpower our own irrationality. I fully plan to teach Sienna about the dangers of guilt when she’s older. Further, I will do my best to never use guilt as a weapon (even in a joking manner). I’ve seen more than enough of it in my lifetime. I’ll also make sure she knows I trust and believe her lest she somehow (and I’m sure she will at some point) blow it, but of course, she’ll be able to earn it back. If she tells me about something going on with one of her friends, I’ll believe her and explain whatever options might be available, that I personally don’t have the right to take charge, but she should be there for her friend and encourage her/him to reach out to the proper authority figures be it guidance counselors, social workers, teachers, even police; only if there’s legitimate proof can I act myself.

Now I have two things to look forward to: a soon-to-planned reunion in Maryland and next year’s annual Giants game.


At the Giants/Packers game on 11/17/13 posing with former Giant great, Stephen Baker “The Touchdown Maker”