The leaves are just about perfection right now in NYC and I couldn’t stop taking pictures of them today. It was oddly warm and very sunny so we spent a lot of time outside and everywhere I looked it was colorful, autumnal glory – so I’m sharing with you.
Tomorrow morning we are leaving for 6 days in Cape May, NJ. I can’t wait to get the heck out of NYC and spend a little time in the waves. Never again do we plan our only vacation for the last week of summer. Though we’ve been able to get out on the weekends a lot, we’ve pretty much been city-bound for the entire summer and it’s just enough already! Enough dust, enough jackhammers, enough people, enough sirens, enough schlepping all of our junk to the friggin playground.
It’s time for sandcastles and wave jumping and pool swimming. I’m ready for arcade games and hot dogs and ice cream. I want to see my kids exhausted from long days of fun. I just hope I haven’t built it up too much at this point.
I’ll be on vacation from blogging as well so I’ll see you in a week.
I have some sort of psychotic need to continue my Project Optimism posts. Maybe it’s because it gets to me to write. Maybe it’s because it makes me smile every Monday. Maybe it’s because it gets me thinking. Whatever the reason, I will continue.
This week is a little bittersweet. Yesterday we went to a party at Chelsea Piers. It was a going-away party for some dear friends who are making the big move away from the NYC metro area. We hadn’t seen them in a long time. Much too long. In the time since we last saw them, they had a son, we had a son, they moved twice, we moved once, our children grew.
It was so wonderful to meet up with not only them, but so many old friends. These were friends we spent late nights with in our early twenties, when the city was a place of bars and clubs and stumbling out of a cab at 5am to buy Poptarts at the deli. These are friends who let us crash at their places for undetermined amounts of time when we had no electricity because of the blackout, or just because we were too tired to go home yet.
Now we are older, grayer, maybe more responsible, many out in the burbs, and almost all of us have children. Yesterday, they all played together in the sun as we looked out over the Hudson river. They shared trains and snacks and played pinball. We had beers like the old days, but it was distinctly not like the old days. Instead of loud music and the smell of cigarette smoke, we were surrounded by conversation and our children’s laughter. It was divine in so many ways.
The bittersweet part is that we didn’t do this until it was all ending. They are taking off to another state far away just next week and yet we didn’t get together when they were just across the river. Thank goodness for Facebook and Instagram so we can see each others’ kids and watch them grow. I suppose it often proves true, you just don’t know what you got till it’s gone.
I’ll take this lesson and spend more time with the friends who are here, take the time to visit the friends who aren’t, and stop using the excuse of “well, we have kids now.” Because honestly, shouldn’t that be the reason instead?
I didn’t manage to get any pictures without our friends’ kids’ faces in them, so you’ll have to settle for Declan by the water.
By “us” I mean both NYC in general and the Upper East Side specifically. By “you” I don’t really mean you, but rather people outside of New York as a group. It’s been a long time so I can’t really remember what my ideas of New York City were before I moved here. I know that a lot of what I thought about the UES was based on Sex and the City and Carrie’s completely impossible apartment. (Everyone on TV conveniently has an in to a rent-controlled place.)
Anyway, I was just walking D\ in the stroller for his nap and came across a couple with their grown son talking to a woman walking her dog. From what I could gather, the son was looking at an apartment. They asked the woman with the dog, “What is this neighborhood like?” and she was replying that it’s nice, etc, etc. The mother interrupted the woman to say, “so we’re safe here?”
Now, these people were looking at a building on a lovely, tree-lined street. It was on the same block as, almost directly across from, my son’s elementary school. As they stood on the sidewalk, the woman with the dog walked by, followed by me with a sleeping toddler in a stroller. Behind me was a woman with her newborn and then a nanny with a little girl walking beside her and a small boy in a stroller. I understand wanting your son to live in a nice place after graduating college, but can’t you glean a little about the neighborhood from what’s around you? Small business and chain stores, restaurants and coffee shops, lots and lots and lots of families with children…my son’s gorgeous elementary school taking up half the block across the street. Was their idea of New York SO scary, that they really needed to ask a passerby if their adult son would be safe in my neighborhood?
I didn’t want to take a picture of that block since my son’s school is right there and I don’t want any creepy people out there on the internets stalking him or anything, but here are two photos of another block I walked down on my way back home. (Please ignore the stupid construction signs. We have the most horrific construction going on, that is literally driving me to drink. It is bananas. I want to write about it, but I get so angry every time I sit down to do it that I can’t go through with it. It is making my relationship with NYC a bit, er, complicated. But I digress.)
Does this look scary or unsafe? Maybe I’m just being overly sensitive. I feel recently that so much that happens in my neighborhood is based on how other people view my neighborhood. It seems as if we’re either seen as the scary big city, where no child could grow up normal, with little access to things like grass and trees, or some haven populated exclusively by filthy-rich white people.
Yes, I know it’s mostly white up here. I know. But it’s still far more diverse than a whole lot of this country. My son’s kindergarten class is a near-perfect, micro-representation of the racial/ethnic breakdown of America. (I say racial/ethnic because not everything thought of as race is actually race. It’s a very complicated way of classifying people. I am talking about the major racial/ethnic groups that we look at in the U.S. population.) We are most certainly NOT all rich. It’s actually one of the most affordable neighborhoods in Manhattan. Yes, there are plenty of crazy wealthy people living here, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a bunch of normal middle-class families here too.
I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I was just really struck by that woman’s comment. It so surprised me that someone would feel unsafe standing in my neighborhood. I like my neighborhood and I happen to feel very, very safe here. Of course there is crime, but for the most part it’s a really nice place to live. I’ve also had the subject of perception in relation to my neighborhood weighing on my mind because of the controversy over the MTS (Marine Transfer Station, Google it, you’ll get lots and lots of opinions) being built two and half blocks from my son’s school, right next to a playground that we frequent and the playing field where he will be playing soccer this fall. I WILL be writing more on that, but I need to think it out and get my facts straight first. Again, I get so angry when I try to write about it that I can’t get it out. It seems to me that the perception of where I live has led certain people to believe that we need a little more adversity in our lives. Again, I digress.
I suppose that this is one of the things that goes along with living in one of the most well-known and largest cities on the planet. Everyone knows about it and therefor forms ideas about it in relation to their own exposure and experiences. In some ways, this is amazing and good and in some ways, it can be hurtful. No matter what, it’s something I have to live with if I choose to live here.
So, what are your thoughts on New York City and the Upper East Side specifically? Do you have preconceived ideas about this place? Have you experienced something similar in the place where you live?
Note: Photos to come.
Last July, yes I said LAST and JULY, our terrace, our little piece of the outside world in the city, was closed for construction. There was some notice about not being up to code and the work taking approximately 4-6 weeks to complete, depending on weather. We were going on vacation when the work was supposed to start so a week beforehand we shipped our plants and grill off to my in-laws’ house, thinking we would at least have it back for part of the fall.
This was not the case. Four weeks turned into ten turned into 16. Our bedroom windows were sealed shut with plastic for three and a half months. Summer turned into fall turned into winter turned into spring. From our windows we saw other lines of apartments lose their balconies and then get them finished and reopened again and again. The weather turned warm and sunny again and still we couldn’t use our outdoor space. Our patience wore thin. It wore very, very, very thin.
We complained to management, and the super, and tenant relations. We got the runaround. Finally, I LOST it. When they were nearly finished and then stopped work on our line for an entire week I went nuts! I went down to the super sweet girl in tenant relations. I begged her to do something…ANYTHING! And then a miracle occurred and last Thursday they took down the two-by-four that was nailed across our door and removed the caution tape and we had our porch back! Just under TEN MONTHS later we have it back!
On Saturday we went to Home Depot and bought planters and flowers and seeds. Yesterday we got our grill back from the husband’s parents’ place. Today we planted petunias and grilled sliders for dinner. It may not seem like a big deal, but to us it is. And we are very, very happy to have our terrace back!
In all my excitement I forgot to take any photos! I’ll take some tomorrow and put them up I promise.
In case you haven’t heard, Hurricane Sexy Sandy is heading toward the east coast of the U.S. Last I checked (which was about 2 seconds ago since we’ve been tuned to weather porn most of the day) she was set to hit us any minute. Being in NYC this storm is BIG NEWS. They shut down the subway. Starbucks is closed. It’s mayhem.
In addition to being building-bound, both of the children decided to come down with pinkeye which also leaves us apartment-bound. Good times. Luckily the urgent care across and the pharmacy across the street stayed open long enough for us to get diagnoses and drops for both of them. Unfortunately, this left us unable to play with any of our building friends and confined to our apartment…ALL…DAY. I know, I know, things could be worse. But being stuck with two whiny, itchy-eyed kids is not my ideal scenario.
So we’ve tried to make the best of it. We’ve read books, we’ve baked cookies, we’ve carved pumpkins, we’ve done writing practice, we’ve watched tv and played on iPads and computers. We had to walk the halls with Declan to get him to nap. We have started drinking beer.
Hopefully tomorrow all pinkness will be gone from all eyes and we can take advantage of living in such a huge building and the wonderful community we’ve built here. We can have some playdates, hang out in the lobby, do something. I will start taking advantage after bedtime tonight when I go to a friend’s apartment to have wine with some of the other moms. I’m going to need it, it’s been a long day.
Let’s hope by tomorrow morning that the worst is over and not too much damage has been done. We’re a little concerned about losing power, which rarely happens in Manhattan. So far, it’s rainy and windy and little else. If you’re in the path of this seriously massive storm, stay safe.