I stepped in gutter water once on the hottest day of summer after a sudden downpour…on Canal st. I vowed to never return.
I stepped in gutter water once on the hottest day of summer after a sudden downpour…on Canal st. I vowed to never return.
Anonymous said: It's been my dream to live in NYC. Is life as glossy as it sounds/appears?
Oh look, I have other messages! I should check tumblr more often on my laptop, since these messages don’t seem to show up on the phone app.
To answer your question: I don’t know, are you independently wealthy? Can you marry into wealth or become a famous architect or wildly successful something-or-other? If the answer is yes, then life in NYC will probably be pretty glossy for you. I recommend a glass-fronted skyscraper apartment on the Williamsburg waterfront. Get a drink on the rooftop bar at the Wythe Hotel, buy a $600 tshirt from Bird, live the new Williamsburg lifestyle.
If the answer is no, I guess it depends on how much you enjoy schlepping a 15lb bag of laundry three blocks to the laundromat each week or paying $1200 for a small room in a 4th floor walkup loft (if you’re lucky you’ll get a window in that room!), crowding into the subway with all the sweaty masses at 8:15am.
Eh, I’m kidding, kind of. I love NYC. I’ve lived here for almost 15 years now. I would consider moving, but I don’t know how I’d adjust to anywhere else. I love the people and the bustle, I love the luxury of being anonymous in a crowd while also being able to find your own people in that crowd. I love that now I live in a neighborhood where kids play in the street and they turn the hydrants into sprinklers on the weekend, I love that I have a backyard and a little garden, but I loved the years I lived in shitty lofts in gritty neighborhoods with a bunch of roommates too. I love that my kids started learning to recognize letters from riding the subway (“that’s a C! that’s a G! that’s an A!”), and I love watching my kids in action on Brooklyn playgrounds, a scrum of ethnicities, cultures and races all jumbled up into one beautiful mess of laughing kids.
I wouldn’t call life in NYC glossy for most of us, but I do love it.
Anonymous said: how did you choose Milo and Zachary's names? I feel like they flow so nicely together. I've been following you for 3 years now and you're still my favorite mother on the Internet
Milo’s actual name is Miles. It got turned into Milo soon after he was born, I think. He was such a funny, goofy, giggly baby, and Miles seemed like such a serious name. We picked Miles because it was a name I’d always liked on the few guys I’d known with it, and it was the only one we could agree on. As he gets older, Milo is starting to introduce himself as Miles to new people, so I guess baby Milo will fade out, replaced by big kid Miles. I kind of wish now that we’d named him Milo; I don’t know why we didn’t. People always ask us if he’s named after Miles Davis for some reason. This is always hilarious to me because, jesus christ, I can’t think of a genre of music that is more boring to me than jazz. Ugh, Miles Davis, pass.
Zachary is a name that Matt pushed for, though I was very resistant to it for a long time. I was set on Roman, and a little bitter that Matt initially agreed than backed out. I’m ok with it now…as a Zachary, he’ll probably be the only one in his class, as a Roman, he’d probably be like one of at least two—it turns out to be a very popular name in north Brooklyn. Poor Zachary, I don’t know if he’ll ever grow out of being called “Zacky” although I suppose that’s slightly better than his other enduring nickname, Sweet Baby.
Thanks for the nice note! I received an anonymous note last week chiding me (albeit politely) about leaving my kids behind while I went on vacation, something about attachment and memories and how this person couldn’t quite understand why I would have kids if all I wanted to do was to get away from them. Whatever man, I’ll start taking my kids on international trips when they can learn how to while away hours quietly in cafes, go record shopping, become interested in museums not related purely to animals or trains, don’t need strollers, and learn how to eat dinner at a civilized hour like 9pm. Living in NYC provides the training for this lifestyle, so I figure by the time they’re teenagers, they’ll be tolerable to travel with. Of course, by that time, they won’t want to hang out with us anyway and will probably want to stay home with their friends. Everyone wins!
(Also, you guys get that I’m mostly kidding with shit, right? Like I know I talk smack about my kids and complain about them and act like they’re the worst, but just to reassure everyone: I’m actually pretty nice to them IRL. I’m pretty verbally and physically affectionate with them, even when they’re being the worst. Except when they fuck around with bedtime too much, ‘cause that’s where I draw the line. I will yell your ass into bed, kid, don’t push me. I like you, but by 8:45pm, I’m ready to be done with you for 10 hours.)
Each time I start to feel a little sad about leaving the boys for nine days while Matt and I go to Copenhagen/Stockholm, I get a lousy night’s sleep, directly related to at least one of them. Last night, a double header. Milo woke me up at 3am needing a complete outfit change, plus towel laid down under him (poor kiddo, it’s obviously not something to be angry with him about, but it’s not exactly my favorite 3am activity), and then Zach woke up for good at 5:45.
Nine days of blissful, uninterrupted sleep several hours in a row? Yes, please.
With Matt off camping this weekend, I was trying to think of a good Saturday activity that would eat up the long hours of the day with the boys. Milo was determined that we were going to the beach. “Pleeeeeease? Can we pleeeeeeease go to the beach?” he pleaded. “I want to take the A train to the beach, please can we please.” I share his love of the beach, but I wasn’t quite sure if I was up for taking two kids by myself, especially since one of those kids wants to spend the entire time playing in the water and the other child is a known water-hater. And of course, taking public transportation to the beach adds another challenge—how much can you realistically carry and drape over the stroller, how far of a walk is it from the subway to the actual beach etc.
In the end, I decided to give it a shot because why not, right? Anything is better than being in the house all day or going to the playground on the weekend. I did, however, decide against taking the A train to the Rockaways, mostly because it’s a full hour ride at least each way, and I wasn’t sure I was down for that kind of commitment if everything went horribly awry for any reason. We hied ourselves down to Coney Island instead, a much more manageable 25 minute train ride. Milo was bubbling with anticipation, and positively squawked with glee when we reached the boardwalk. Zach, on the other hand, took one look at the beach and then turned around and glared at me. “No wash!” he cried angrily, “no wash! I ‘ate wash! I ‘ate beach!” Oh relax, I told him, you don’t have to get wet, no one’s forcing you to go in the water. I don’t know how a child born of my genes can hate the water and the beach so much, but he does.
I dragged the stroller down the beach until I found a spot near a family with a boombox blasting salsa (because one of my favorite things about NYC beaches is the prevalence of salsa music playing everywhere). Milo bounced around excitedly. “C’mon! let’s go in the water! Zacky you wanna go in the water wif me?” he asked. Zach looked around angrily, kicked the sand with his foot, shook his head and climbed back into the stroller. “No wash,” he said firmly, “I ‘ate wash. I ‘ate beach.” And with that proclamation, he took a slug of water and passed out. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the picture of Zach’s displeased expression right before he passed out. I draped the towel over the stroller to block out the sun, then took Milo down to the water. He ran in, shouting over his shoulder at me to hurry up so we could jump in the waves.
It was at this point that I realized that in my hurry to pack food and drinks and beach toys and get the boys in their bathing suits and pack them a change of dry clothing and bring towels and sunglasses and hats…it was at this point in our beach excursion that I realized that I’d forgotten to wear or pack my own swimsuit. Nothing to do except go into the water anyway, safe in the knowledge that at least my kids would have dry, sand-free clothes to wear home.
June was horrible. Between the move and trying to unpack while being home with both kids (Milo’s school ended on June 7th for some reason), June was a disaster of yelling, physical disorganization, and overall intense dislike of parenting and life in general. I don’t know about your 2 yr old and 4 yr old, but mine are best frenemies. They love each other! No wait, they hate each other! No wait, they’re playing so nicely together no wait now they’re trying to kill each other oh look at them hug each other so sweet together hey stop that you’re going to kill him don’t do that oh jesus christ I can’t take it anymore calgon take me away….
And then July rolled in. Milo started day camp five days a week, 9am-3pm. We got the apartment a little more organized, pictures hung, washer/dryer purchased and installed. Instead of a painful annoying grind to grimly endure, parenting has once again become a joy (more or less, anyway, which is about the best one can hope for, right?). In fact, July has been such an enjoyable month on the parenting front that I’m actually slightly regretful that the boys aren’t coming with us to Scandinavia. (Don’t worry, I’m quite sure this regret will melt away the second I land in Copenhagen and realize that I have 9 whole days of not worrying about whether or not everyone’s consumed enough vegetables, 9 whole days of not having to visit a single fucking playground.)
Part of this return to joy is the discovery of how delightful two year olds can be. To be honest, I don’t remember much of Milo being a two year old. That whole year was a blur of newborn baby and nursing and sleep deprivation, and I don’t think I was able to enjoy much of the delightfulness of this age in the way that I’m able to with Zach. I don’t think I’ve felt such a pure joy in parenting since Milo was a baby. I love watching Zach’s mischievous sense of humor developing, love the feeling of chubby toddler arms being thrown around my neck in an enthusiastic hug.
It makes me a little sad, tbh, that I missed out on the joy of this age with Milo. I can’t help but feel guilty about this, like maybe part of the reason that Milo has so many difficulties with his emotions is because I wasn’t really emotionally present for him at this stage in his development. A friend of mine got it right recently when she observed that Milo has emotional reactions more akin to a teenager than a four year old. I feel like I really failed him, and now I feel a bit lost in trying to figure out how to correct it. I’m trying to be really conscious of how I interact with him, trying to minimize the yelling and temper-losing and maximize the gentleness and love, hoping for the best. Ah, parenting. A lifetime of hoping for the best.
Matt and I are going to Copenhagen and Stockholm for 9 days in August. Note that I said Matt and I…no kids! Someday, we’ll travel internationally with them, but I can’t imagine doing that at this stage. I mean, I can imagine it, which is exactly why I have no interest in it. To Milo’s credit, he’s actually a great traveler, and if it was just him, it would be different. But throwing two year old Zach into the mess is a whole other story—being held hostage to nap needs and car seat schlepping and time change adjustments…no thanks. Everyone’s happy this way—I get a break from the conversations of children (charming at times, but overall not particularly intellectually compelling), and the boys get to spend a week with their beloved Mimi and Papa.
We’re staying in a hotel in Copenhagen, but are booking our stay in Stockholm through Airbnb. I’ve been scrolling through the options in Stockholm, and honestly, some of the apartments are just so overwhelmingly Scandinavian minimalist that I can’t even. White everything, nothing on the walls, no books, just a few stark pieces of (well-designed) furniture.
I’m most amazed at the apartments that are clearly occupied by at least one child most of the time. No toys anywhere, just three books on a tiny shelf, a tiny bed tucked away in a nook. I look around at my kids’ room, with its train table and attendant trains underfoot, books everywhere, wooden blocks piled up on the floor, dresser drawers carelessly left open. I can’t help it as small prayer tumbles from my lips: please god turn me into a Scandinavian woman, teach me to enjoy the beauty of nothingness. And then the universe laughs at me and tells me to keep dreaming. Maybe in the next life?
We have a washer/dryer connection at this new apartment. It was definitely a selling point, since I’ve never lived in a NYC apartment with this feature before this. (I thought I was living pretty large in our last building, which had a laundry room downstairs.) It’s just the connection though, so we have to buy our own set. Which is fine, really, but we’ve put it off because we were trying to figure out various pro/cons of stackable units versus the connected kind (there’s limited space in the closet). It seems like every review of every kind I read was like, these all suck none of them work right it broke after 3 months etc etc.
But today I took two kids and a giant push cart of laundry to the laundromat, and the ensuing three hours were so hellish (eg toddler cried for 35 minutes straight at one point, yanking on my shorts crying out to go home, wrapping himself around my legs as I tried to move around) for various reasons that I think I’m ready to push the purchase button on whatever w/d fits our space and is somewhat reasonably priced, reviews be damned.
The best (“best”) part of the experience was on the walk home when the toddler lost what remained of his shit, sat down on the sidewalk and refused to move. I’d push the cart 40 feet along the sidewalk, go back for the kid, carry him up to the cart, put him down, repeat. Took us about 15 minutes to do the 5 minute walk.
It’s not that I think parenting is difficult, per se, like, it doesn’t require an advanced degree in physics or competency in organic chemistry, but parenting (even coddled middle class privileged parenting) is not for the faint of heart.
Oh, and also today is my wedding anniversary! Five years (I think? yes.) of marriage. I’ve basically become a wreck of a person in the last five years - lost all ability to cook, terrible at chores, parenting skills leave so much to be desired, forgotten birthdays, total failure on the career front, and in general so mentally disorganized that nothing gets done around our house unless my husband forces me to do it. And yet, he still seems to want to spend time with me. Love is a strange thing, huh? Bless him.