Buried Under Winter

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As the snow tumbles down for what feels like the millionth time in the last three months, I find myself resigned to it’s inevitability. It’s the part of the winter where the cold, gray, and ice have completely taken over everything and it feels like the sun will never show itself again. The dreary days seem to stretch on as far back as I can remember and as far forward as I can see. It is the part of winter where I realize I’ve been buried up to my eyeballs and didn’t even see it happening.

Here in New York, the fluffy white flakes settle down and cover everything in a sheen of pretty for about 10 hours before they begin to morph into something sinister. First the piles at the sides of the streets and sidewalks fill with cigarette butts and dog shit. Then they begin to gray and then to blacken. A week after the storm, what remains are iced-over mountains of detritus and soot; hulking black humps punctuated by discarded rubber gloves, soda cans, flyers for discount suits and threading salons, and lost mittens of all shapes and sizes. How does the filth pile up so quickly?

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The drudgery of pulling on boots and zipping up jackets, of slogging through slush and shivering against the wind, have become second nature. We don’t even notice it anymore. No one stops to chat at school dropoff. There are no shared walks to here or there. The parks are filled with ice and puddles and not fit for squealing, running groups of children who’ve been sitting at school all day. Every trip is a hurry in from the cold. It is lonely and long and dark.

So as the snow falls and falls and falls and I prepare to lace up my boots yet again to go out into the winter, I keep telling myself one thing…Spring is going to feel SOOOOO good!

Project Optimism: The Terrace

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.

Summer’s End

After a HOT, HOT summer, the thought of fall just around the corner is kind of a pleasant one. But that always gets me thinking about winter and that makes me cringe. While I’m more than ready for sweaters and pumpkins, I’m NEVER ready for coats and slush.

I always find myself getting a bit claustrophobic in August. I get what I call “citied out”. Despite easy access to a few parks, including Central Park, the end of summer makes me mourn for the days when a large portion of my summers were spent at my grandmother’s camper catching frogs, running through the fields, toasting marshmallows, and just enjoying the country. I miss all the time I spent in a pool during my childhood, or playing in treehouses. I get sick of the sounds of trucks, backhoes, bulldozers, and jackhammers. I get fed up with the heat of the air combined with the heat of exhausts from buses and building and cars. And the smell! That horrid smell of rotting garbage and old cat litter and gallons and gallons of urine!

Especially because we’ve spent very little time outside of the city this summer, I am getting very overwhelmed by it all. There are tons of wonderful things about summer in the city. But by August 17th most of those are getting old. We just finished a visit from mom, so I’m a bit down today. We had a great time with her and it’s always hard for me to see her leave.

Luckily, the husband decided to take off Friday through Monday and we’re going to get in some beach time!!! Hooray!!! I need some fresh(er) air and less concrete. Hopefully I’ll be a much-refreshed girl next week.

Good thing about summer - Farmer's Market. Brady got a fruit salad for his first ever face painting!

Oh and check out my new header! It only took me about 2 years to take my own picture!

Stranger Danger

Since it’s now too cold to walk around all morning, I’ve been spending Brady’s morning nap at Starbucks – like I am right now – either reading or working on the computer when I have it.

I’ve found that by hanging out at places like this I invite conversations from complete strangers. Usually I oblige and end up talking to someone for most of the boy’s nap. I get lonely being at home with him all day and I’ll take adult conversation wherever I can get it.

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You look nice. Can I come home with you?

Living in a city of 8 million people, you are exposed to other human beings almost constantly. As a result, Brady has no fear of strangers. Well, not as long as I don’t leave him with them. At a rest stop on our way to Pittsburgh he willing ran into the arms of an older woman in a horrendous holiday sweater as I chased after him. At  the bar last week he stretched his arms out to a woman who was admiring his cuteness and let her hold him happily until we were ready to leave.

And with this I am met with a dilemma. How do I teach Brady that strangers can be scary and dangerous and still allow him to keep his open-minded and friendly view of the world?

I was a very shy kid myself and have always found it difficult to come out of my shell and make  friends. But then here I am chatting random people up at Starbucks on a regular basis. I would love for Brady to take away a more open personality from his upbringing in the city. That said, I don’t want him jumping in vans with scary old men bearing gifts of candy either.

As he becomes more mobile and more communicative this problem has been on my  mind. I suppose it’s something I need to discover as we go along. But I definitely want to be mindful of how my interactions with strangers and my reactions to his might affect his future attitude toward people. Big things to ponder for sure!

What a scare! -or- Why I really hate construction

I have ranted and raved about the abundance of construction in our neighborhood before. But after what happened Sunday I have a totally new anger toward the whole thing.

Does this look safe?

Brady and I walked over and met the husband after his workout at the gym on Sunday and the three of us were going to grab some lunch. On our way over to the bar we walked through the dreaded Georgica Brompton* construction site. Near the end of the scaffolding-covered area there was what looked like a pile of rugs across the entire sidewalk, blocking the way. On the sides were tarps and some crooked-looking caution sawhorses.

I thought that the rug must be covering something solid, like the black plastic speed-bump-type things that they run over wires or gaps in the sidewalk. So I started over with the Bugaboo. Unfortunately it was NOT solid and the front wheels got caught in the bumps in the rug and the stroller began to tip over. In my rush to grab the stroller I also got caught and tripped and fell over. The stroller went right on over on top of Brady. I screamed!

My husband scrambled over and pulled the stroller off the baby as I got up. He was fine – screaming but fine. The bar on the front of the seat and the harness prevented him from actually hitting the ground. He did end up biting his lip which bled a bit. Today he has no mark. I, however, have a giant bump and green bruise which basically covers my left shin. Fun.

A witness called 911 to report it and I called 311. I made a report with the Dept. of Buildings which told me it would take 10 days to investigate. Awesome – the rugs were gone yesterday so it’ll do a ton of good. 911 sent over an ambulance which we told them that we would not be needing. The EMT’s suggested we make a report with the police so they radioed them and we waited. Now for the worst part.

When the police car finally arrived the officers walked over to me and the one who was clearly in charge said, “So, why am I here?” scowling and rolling his eyes. When we told him what happened he was obviously annoyed and told us that he wouldn’t be able to do a thing and I quote, “I mean there’s no report unless someone goes to the hospital. What do you want me to do? When you enter a construction site you’re supposed to know to proceed with caution.” He never even looked at my husband or I.

Um, what?!?!?! Could you PLEASE have a tiny bit of humanity and be at least courteous to the woman who just fell over with her baby? Now I’m fairly sure that it’s illegal to leave debris blocking the entire sidewalk at a construction site making it hazardous for people to pass through. But whatever. We only wanted to make a report so no one else would get hurt. If they couldn’t do something about that, fine. But honestly, couldn’t they at least be nice?

I really wish I had gotten his name and badge number so I could have made a complaint. So, Mr. Officer, to answer your question…you were there because you are a policeman and your job is to respond to calls. I called…you came. Got it?

I just want to make it clear that I have nothing against the NYPD. I know a few officers and all of the other police-people I have ever dealt with from the NYPD have been nothing but wonderful. This is just for you – responding officer on Sunday. Oh and you too Georgica Brompton* – I can’t imagine who’s going to buy your $1 million plus condos with this economy!

*There are so many of them I can’t keep them straight!!!