They say that life comes at ya quick! … and they weren’t kidding. A few short months ago I’m living in Brooklyn Heights in the lap of luxury. I have a doorman with 24 hour maintenance service and could walk 50 feet for a cup of coffee and a sandwich. My commute was 20 minutes and I was crushing 6-9 hours of sleep routinely.
Now I’ve entered the unknown. An unknown that a Brooklyn kid could never be prepared for even if he tried. All I can do is dive in head first and listen to my wife at all times. I’ve watched enough Hallmark movies starring Candace Cameron against my will to know that’s how it’s done.
So let’s break it down – The first life change I took on was moving to the burbs, where I’ve had the pleasure of embarking on a never-ending shit-storm with NJTRANSIT and the MTA. As of today, I’ve only scratched the surface in this department – I’ve experienced a snowstorm, a disabled bridge causing mass chaos, a train crashing into a tugboat and even got to follow along in horror as my friend had to evacuate his train and walk on the tracks in the middle of the night like he was in the fucking Blair Witch Project.
Now, as of 12/12/18, I’ve officially entered another unknown. Fatherhood. Yes, the baby I’ve alluded to in prior blogs is finally here and unlike a NJTRANSIT train, she came early and ahead of schedule. It’s only been a few days but she’s easily the best thing that’s ever happened to me. She makes all the lifestyle changes worth it … WHAT A BLESSING! And for those of you that are curious, we had no mechanical issues during labor. We’re talking a straight up AMTRAK service. Express and expensive.
…. annnnnnnd now that all the sappy shit is out of the way, we can get down to brass tacks. At the time of this writing it’s 7AM and we just had our first night with the little one. My wife is currently rolling her eyes as she reads the word “we” since she, without question took the brunt of it. We’ve been up and down, confused, scared, happy and everything else in between. Am I exhausted? Is this adrenaline? “OH MY GOD, YOU’RE SO CUTE, BUT PLEASE FALL ASLEEP BABY, BUT IF YOU DON’T, I DON’T CARE I’LL STAY UP ALL FUCKING NIGHT, I’M IN YOUR HANDS!!” … You know what I’m talking about.
It was around 4AM when I started laughing to myself as I plopped down on the couch for the 10th time. I was laughing because I couldn’t help but think about how our first night as new parents with our little bundle of joy is quite the parallel to riding the New Jersey Transit System. Yes, even during this life altering event I was thinking about 20-40 minute delays and how eerily similar the two are. Sometimes she’s sleeping and everything is going according to plan, but then all of a sudden shit slams into a portal bridge of gas pockets and a dirty diaper.
Think about it – in both instances you never know what the hell is going on. I’d say first and foremost that Communication is the toughest – ya know, googoogaga/baby noises vs. “Uhhh Good Evening passengers there’s a signal problem and I’m not quite sure when we’ll be moving or if what I’m saying right now is total bullshit, but as soon as I know, I’ll let you know … or I won’t … whatever.” I mean, there’s so much room for misleading communication when you’re dealing with a baby. It’s the same type of utter confusion you feel when moving 1 MPH down the Northeast Corridor. SO … MANY .. QUESTIONS. WHAT. IS. HAPPENING!! …. Is my precious angel crying because she’s hungry? Did she take a poopy in her pants? Does she want to be held? It’s kind of like when you’re standing in the middle of Penn Station with about 1,000 disgusting, equally miserable people and you’re told the train is on Stand By, but you’re not giving any other information. Just straight up mixed signals across the board, standing there with a dumb look on your face and a dump in your own pants. Shit, you might as well be a fucking baby. There you are, starring up at the LED screen hoping it provides you with clues for which Track you need to go to. Of course, this hope for information is hopeless. You’re left hanging. The only difference here for a guy like me is that instead of the baby crying, now I’m crying … a grown ass man … CORRECTION! … a 33 year old grown ass man … with a figurative dump in his pants.
The only thing you can do in these situations is just go with your gut and/or hand the baby to your Mother In-Law, that’s all you can do, both as a commuter or a new parent. For example, sometimes you gotta make the call to try the PATH Train instead of PENN STATION and sometimes you just gotta check to see if the baby pissed down their leg. Either way, it’s the shits and both belong in a toilet.
Another thing I’ve realized is that at this early in the game, the schedule is pretty much up in the air at all times. Oh! You got plans, you say? … WELL FUCK YOUR PLANS, HOW’S THAT SOUND?!?! Yes, over the last 8 hours I’ve made the assessment that my sleep schedule is no longer a schedule at all. If I can’t expect the 8:01AM Train to actually arrive at 8:01AM, then I probably shouldn’t expect my daughter to fall asleep every 3 hours when she was still chillen in the womb about 72 hours ago, you feel me? I need to be flexible and I gotta find a way to be prepared, and I gotta say that without question NJTRANSIT has helped me in that department …
Essentially, because of how bad my commute is I now always make it a point to leave my house with the expectation that I should be prepared for the long haul. Just because the train schedule says my ride is Express for 32 minutes doesn’t mean that it won’t end up being 4-5 hours and end with me eating shitty food and taking an Uber ride home. And on that same note, just because my daughter crushes a bottle of formula like her Dad crushes meatballs on a Sunday, it doesn’t mean she’s gonna burp like a beast and stay down for the count throughout the night. Although, at least if it’s my Daughter keeping me up I can sit on my couch in my suburban home, because if it’s NJTRANSIT holding me hostage, then for all I know I could be thrown from a vestibule or spend 2 hours with my face smashing into some dude’s armpits. Ahhhh, there’s nothing like the smell of some random stranger’s armpits after he sprinted to the train while wearing a heavy North Face jacket. It’s that good ol’ commuter funk the people rave about! Some body odor with a hint of depression.
If I had to think of any advantage NJTRANSIT has over raising a newborn, I’d say its gotta be the sleep situation. Ya see, during my first night as a parent I was so fucking paranoid that I just spent hours just starring at my baby nonstop. If you didn’t know any better, you’d have thought someone slipped me some LSD in my 7th cup of coffee. Sleep wasn’t really an option the other night – either I scared out of a my mind (like a little bitch) or she was screaming as if she was out of her own mind. Also, shoutout and kudos to my big Brother who gave me the heads up this would happen – He said it best when he told me that she’s gonna be straight out of the movie “The Gremlins” ….
THEN ADD A LITTLE WATER AND SOME FORMULA …
Either way, my eyes were open and the bags underneath them were coming at a steady pace. My Daughter went full blown Gremlin. On the flip-side, NJTRANSIT offers you the ability to sleep a ton if you dare. Basically it goes like this: if you’re willing to get your shit jacked or snore out loud with no compassion for those around you, by all means, take a snooze. Be gross, be inappropriate, kick your feet up on the seat and show no regard for human decency. TREAT YOSELF, PLAYA!! Also, while you’re at it, don’t just sleep on the train, DARE TO DREAM, dream about a day where your train arrives on time and the Express train actually goes Express without being delayed due to slippery rail conditions or my personal favorite, equipment shortage.
So when it comes down to it, there’s not much difference between the two. And I know I’m an amateur at being a commute Daddy, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that it’s fucking brutal at times. You just gotta embrace it and step up to the challenge. You’re gonna be delayed. You’re gonna have to adapt. You’re gonna sleep walk. You’re gonna get puked on, change a diaper, change it again and maybe, just maybe, you’ll even cry. If I had to say what differentiates the two though, I’d say it’s that I chose to have a baby and it’s easily the best decision I’ve ever made …. She’s my world and she’s only been here for a quick minute.
BUT ON THE DARK SIDE OF THE FORCE, I certainly DO NOT feel like I necessarily chose to ride NJTRANSIT, oh no no no, my friends … ain’t nobody chooses that. You’re stuck with it. It’s a marriage, until retirement do us part. You may now kiss your sleep goodbye.
… so when does Paternity Leave start?!?!
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