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A Copywriter’s Blog
2 Year Old Wisdom: Sarcasm Ben Levy 27, July

My daughter lives in my house, where she hears The Wife and I speak. So it’s no surprise that she’s already dabbling with sarcasm.

But here’s the thing. Sarcasm to a two year old is just lying obviously. So my daughter’s approach goes something like this- and please keep in mind she knows her letters:

The Daughter, holding up the letter Y: Look Daddy, A!

Then she smiles. Except that’s a bit of an understatement. The expression on her face is the reason they created the phrase “Shit-eating grin.” It was with just such a smile that the saber-toothed tigers of old surprised our ancestors in the field. If her smile were any wider, the top of her head would fall off.

Me: No honey, that’s a Y.

TD: No, Daddy. Ayyyyy! *Grin*

Me: Uh huh. If try to correct you, you’re going to keep calling it an A. And if I agree with you, then you’ll learn the wrong thing, never get into college, and wind up living at home for the rest of your life.

TD: AAAAYYYYYYYY!

Me: This round goes to you.

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My father is a cardiac anesthesiologist, which means two things:

1- I grew up hearing about ECHOs, intubation, and heart failure during dinner.
2- I can spell cardiac anesthesiologist right on the first try. SUCK IT, AUTOCORRECT.

I’ve been telling people for years that I’m “conversational in doctor.” Meeting my The Wife only increased my opportunities to nod understandingly about hypertension, febrile seizures, and immunodeficiency. And then there were all the fun phrases I learned from the other three doctors on her side of the family.

So here I am, conversational in doctor. The old lingua physica, if you will. Very proud of it, too. Because it was the only thing that allowed me to keep up with the on-call neonatologist* at 5:30 in the morning, on no sleep, while my four-hour old son lay nearby with tubes coming out of his nose.

I understood the tests she was naming. I understood the procedures they had performed already. I understood that they thought there might be something on his lungs, but in fact there wasn’t, and this was a good thing. And I understood that their next course of action would be to push a particular drug that was often useful in such cases.

And in that moment I also understood something else: the importance of context.

Because while I know what all those words mean, I didn’t know what a single one of them meant.

If the current diagnoses turned out to be wrong, what was the next thing to look for? If the drug she was suggesting didn’t work, what was plan B? Exactly how terrified, on a scale of one to shit-my-pants-where-I-stand, should I be right now?

I got the answer to the two last questions simultaneously, when she began explaining the drug almost always worked, but “…in autopsies you’ll see if it didn’t it’s because of a mutation in the lung we couldn’t have known was there.”

Autopsies? Who said anything about autopsies? I didn’t say anything about autopsies. Why are you talking about autopsies? Stop. Talking. About autopsies. Rightthefucknow. Thank you.

I tried to ask questions, but I couldn’t seem to make my brain work. I felt many things at this moment. Absolute fatigue, for starters. A sort of dull fear that I didn’t have time for right then but would examine at my leisure later. A strong desire for my The Wife, lying in a hospital bed two floors above in the CICU**, where she couldn’t help me to understand any of this.

And above all a sharp, shocking clarity of just how little I knew about a language and world I thought I understood.

“I’m not a doctor, I just talk to them at my spouse’s office parties.”

*I did have to look up how to spell that one. I’m not a wizard.

**Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. I soloed that one, too.

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3 Times A Lady Author Ben Levy 4, July

Got so excited about the kid, I almost forgot about the book:

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 12.44.18 PM

Before I wrote the Owl Book, I did a lot of research. Went to a lot of bookstores. Read a lot of cardboard-backed bestsellers.

But, guys. Nothing, I mean nothing, is going to prepare you for children’s book writing like owning an actual child. I have read, on average, 4-to-4-bazillion baby books a night for the last two years. I can recite “Are You A Cow?” and “Click Clack Moo” and even “The Wonderful Sounds Mr. Brown Can Do” by heart.

So when it came time to write another one, the only preparation involved was figuring out where I was going to get the time to illustrate it.

I’m really proud of this book. I love how it came out. I want to share it with people. So I’m releasing a free pdf copy right here.

Literally. Click right here and get a free pdf of my latest children’s book.

And if you do love it so much you want it in book form,click here.

And to answer an FAQ- Yes, a Coo (or Cou) is a real creature. I discovered them on a family trip to Scotland years ago. I thought the name sounded fun. It still does.

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On June 14th, 2014, my son was born.

On June 22, we were finally able to take him home. I have never been so happy to be peed on in my entire life.

What happened in between was, to put a word to it, stressful. Other words that could be put to it are gut-wrenching, abominable, sanity-stretching, and poopy.

But he’s ours now, and that’s all that matters.

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There are stories that could be told about all this. I think I might tell them.

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On fancy furniture Ben Levy 9, December

It happens like this:

You buy a place, and suddenly you’re inundated with all these magazines that you’ve never heard of, or at least haven’t looked at before.

Then you look at them, intending to laugh at the imaginary people who buy that shit when an Ikea table is just fine.

And then you get to one page and go “oooh, that one’s kind of cool, actually.”

And now someone somewhere is laughing at you.

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June To-do List Ben Levy 12, June

Get promoted
Double size of client account at work
Help The Wife get settled in new job
Put Molly in new daycare
Close on condo
Move into condo
Put Molly in a different new daycare
Turn 30
Get back in shape

Exhale.

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What else does she know? Ben Levy 26, February

I wish I could tell you how this happened. It was so unexpected, I don’t really remember the sequence of events leading up to it. I think it started when The Wife told me our child’s teachers claimed she said “Elmo” today.

I probably said something like “bullshit,” and The Wife agreed with my assessment. Molly’s making more sounds everyday, but even if she stumbles on a word, there’s been no indication she’s using it intentionally.

I’m…not really sure what happened next. I was sitting on the floor with Molly, holding the one Elmo book we actually own, and I guess for some reason I asked her “Where’s Elmo?”

And she slapped her hand down right on top of him.

Ok, very funny. She just happened to hit Elmo. I closed the book, then opened it to the same page, but this time I moved it so that her hand wouldn’t naturally fall on him. “Where’s Elmo, Molly?”

Without hesitation, she slapped her hand down on Elmo again.

I flipped a page, and I suspect there was a slightly bright quality to my voice. “Where’s Elmo?”

That time she pointed, laying one finger on the page. Almost in the fold between the two pages, where a comparatively tiny image of Elmo was waving.

I think there was some horse, dramatic whispering with The Wife, and some confusion over who was getting the camera. Molly found Elmo a few more times, but of course once we started recording she got totally distracted by a TV remote and stopped having anything to do with the book at all. But The Wife witnessed it at least four times in a row, maybe five. So I know I’m not making this up.

My child is ten months old today. And apparently she understands English. Or at least “Elmo.”

I have no idea what is happening.

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29 Ben Levy 25, June

The last two years, I had awesome explanations for how I was actually aging backwards. That ended this year.

This year, I turned 29. In itself, not a bad thing. But it’s 29-with-an-8-week-old-daughter, which is 45 in parent years. Many of my friends are in their 30s, but they can all sleep easy knowing I’ll always be older than they are.

The Spawn is two months old now, which means she’s ten pounds and smiles and laughs. Her gift to me was seven straight hours of sleep. It was the first night since she was born that I didn’t have to get up to feed her at least once.

So while I might be older than ever, I’m terminally behind on life, and I’m in a constant state of exhaustion, I could be feeling a lot worse.

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Don’t wait Ben Levy 17, June

The thing I’ve found with side-projects is that you can’t sit on them. If you don’t strike while the iron’s hot, get a jump on them, or make the most of some other crappy cliche, you wind up finding your old notes like 4 years later and going “oh yeah, that would have been cool.”

About a year ago, someone told me I should make a mobile game based on the dick book. I laughed. “How would I even make a game out of that?” I said, “It would have to be something like 20 different bras you would need to open, each with a different clasp that would basically be a puzzle. And for each bra you unlocked, you’d get a free chapter of the book.”

There was an uncomfortable silence. My friend was staring at me with a slightly open mouth.

“Look- no,” I began, “I haven’t even finished the first mobile game I started, and this one isn’t…I mean, sure it would be easier to build but…-”

He was still staring at me.

“…crap.”

I got excited about it, but I didn’t move on it. I came up with all sorts of reasons not to. I couldn’t decide how best to display the book pages. I wasn’t absolutely sure it would work. I’m not a programmer. How could I make the puzzles intuitive but still hard enough to be entertaining? Would anyone ever play it?

A year later, it’s made.

Oh, not by me. No. You see, I was too busy asking myself stupid questions. The game that was made is called 100 Floors. The puzzles are elevators, not bras, and you have unlock one floor to move to the next. Many are not particularly intuitive. Your only reward is moving on to the next one. And for a week it was the most popular free game in the android store.

“…crap.”

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Same, yet different. Ben Levy 30, May

This morning, when I got in from walking the dog, I found The Wife standing in the living room without pants.

There was a time in my life when this would be amazing. That time is over.

You see these days, if The Wife greets me without pants, it is because The Spawn has ejected bodily fluids on them.

I could tell it had been an impressive payload, since The Spawn was wriggling on a changing table without any clothes on at all.

But it was the fact that the couch was also missing a cushion that indicated this particular broadside was one for the history books.

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