Monday, May 30, 2011

The Heat is On

"Oh, we'll be fine!" I said.  "We'll put the shades down and put the window fan in.  It's not like our last apartment, where all the windows faced the sun all day."


One summer in New York City under my belt, and it only took about three days of extreme heat this time around for Alix and I to give up the delusion that we could get through the summer without air conditioning.  When we lived in midtown, our (significantly more expensive) apartment came with an AC unit already built in.  Our supers serviced it every few weeks and even though our electrical bill was through the roof, there was no way we were turning that thing off when it was hitting 95 degrees every. single. day.

When we moved into our current place, it was October, and we quickly removed the dinky little window AC unit and stashed it hurriedly behind the armchair, vowing to deal with it later.  Well, later is now.  After debating the merits of spring for a long time, New York gave us a week or so of beautiful, warm, breezy weather before laughing bitterly and tossing the 90 degree days right back at us in full force.  After two nights of sweating profusely in our flannel-sheeted bed, the window fan blowing steamy, musty-smelling, allergen-filled air straight into our waiting lungs and Alix and I hauled the dinky AC out from behind the chair, vacuumed it, and set it up in the bedroom window.  We turned it on full-blast, prayed it would work, and shut the door.  Ten minutes later, I cautiously opened the door and was greeted with a gust of chilly air.  Happy dances ensued and the cat promptly scooted through the door and settled in for a nap.  Ahhh, we thought.  Now we can sleep in peace!  (We also bought some summer sheets and will be storing the flannels until November comes around again.)

As for the rest of the apartment?  The window fan will be fine!  Or so we thought.  We gritted our teeth today, ignored the panting dog, and blamed our snappiness on...anything but the heat.  Finally, while lethargically cleaning up the apartment, I unearthed an almost-expired 20% off coupon for Bed Bath & Beyond.  Before I could say a word, Alix's sweaty fingers were dancing across the computer keyboard and were soon dialing the phone number for our nearest store.  "Delivered between 7 PM and 10 PM tonight?  Sure, sounds good!"

At 8:15 PM, a very grumpy delivery man (who realized after buzzing our apartment that we live in a walk-up) came harumphing up the stairs with our new 60-pound window AC unit.  We tipped him begrudgingly, locked the cat in the bedroom, and began unwrapping our new treasure.  It quickly became apparent that there was substantially more assembly required for this not-very-rinky-dink air conditioner than we had planned on.  Now, let me be clear about something.  Like most couples, there are things that Alix is good at and things that I am good at.  I can cook and clean with the best of them, but being handy?  Not really my thing.  So while I drank milk from the carton and occasionally shouted encouraging words, Alix bravely dove in to the task of wrestling our air conditioner into the window and solidifying it so that it won't go tumbling four stories to the sidewalk below.  Two hours later, it's humming steadily away, cooling our humble abode to a nice 72 degrees.  The dog has stopped panting, I finished the milk, and Alix wiped the suspicious smudges off her face.  The cat is still trying to eat the styrofoam packaging, but hey, that's just another version of normal around these parts.

New York summer?  Bring it on.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rays of Sunshine

There are good things in life.  Even in the midst of struggles (first-world or not), there are things like unexpected sunshine after a week of rain, and new friends - that own a fluffy dog - met at the coffee shop.
Coco in foreground, being an excellent subject.  Rupert in background, being easily distracted.
There are also things like used bookstores on a rainy afternoon, crammed floor to ceiling with books.
Don't look for a specific author, title, or genre.  Just...look.  You'll find something.
And there are books.  Wonderful, blessed, books.  Books and coffee could get me are getting me through a lot.  Anyone recognize some of their recommended titles from this post?
I was doing well at keeping my spending under control until I found the children's section.  (See the top 8 books.)

Okay everyone, quick, look around the room and find five things that make you happy!  I'll go first:
1.  Rupert, sleeping in a ball
2.  My iPod playing "Dog Days Are Over," by Florence + The Machine
3.  My yellow sweatpants
4.  Our two new little plants, bought at the farmers' market this evening
5.  Our refrigerator white board with a list of things to do - all checked off.

Your turn!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pre-Dawn Thoughts

I'm not going to lie, waking up at 3:30 AM isn't fun.  Waking up because you're shaking with panic and can't get back to sleep, no matter how hard you try, no matter how soothingly your bed-mate talks to you, and no matter how high a (safe) dosage of anti-anxiety medication you take really, really sucks. 

On the other hand, sitting here on the couch, watching the room slowly fill with soft, gray light (no real sunshine this morning, unfortunately), listening to music through my headphones, wrapped in a fleecy blanket, and browsing the internet with no intention is kind of...nice.  I am glad for Alix and Rupert that they are peacefully asleep.  I don't resent my solitude, in spite of the loneliness that inevitably hovers in my subconscious like a pesky cough that never seems to quite leave your lungs.  My loneliness and I have made a kind of peace with each other.  I accept that it's here to stay, for an indefinite period of time, and that I am given occasional respite from its persistent presence through the love and support of family and friends.  My loneliness, in turn, has learned to back off a bit when I am surrounded by this love and waits semi-patiently in the background until it again seizes free reign over my mind.  So yes, am I lonely out here on the couch by myself, tired but not sleepy, dreading the day ahead?  Of course.  But I'm also enjoying the rising sun, the fleecy blanket, and the warm computer on my lap. 

I'm also enjoying the thought of my friends and family in different places and what they're doing with their time right now.  My dear mother has been up since at least 5 AM and is enjoying her morning coffee at the kitchen table with my father in their pajamas.  She will shower soon and get dressed for work, driving an hour through the countryside, listening to NPR and idly thinking of her many children and the newest renovations on the house she and my dad are working on.  I might not know time differences for shit, but I imagine a college friend, of Latitude 43, waking up to the crisp, cool air in her Chilean home and shivering a bit while building a fire in the gray foggy morning light that New York is also seeing this morning.  I imagine a newish but so-close-I-swear-we're-twins friend, of The (Online) Nanny Diaries solidly asleep in her cheery yellow room, buried under her blue covers, getting ready to wake up to a full day of work and the chance to love on her six-week-old nannyboy.  I imagine my friend in Brazil on a Fulbright sleeping under barely a sheet, with the warm breeze blowing through an open window (truth be told, I don't have a clue what the weather is like in Brazil these days, but I'd like to imagine someone in paradise right now), getting ready for her day of research and adventuring in a new country that is beginning to feel like home to her.  I wonder, do they ever think of me?  Do they think of me catching a nasty cold from my nannykids, or waking up at 3:30 AM, or getting my morning coffee around the corner and enjoying the first delicious sip? Do they know how much my heart aches for their physical presence, for their hugs and kind words, and their simple proximity to myself?

I'd like to imagine they do.  It might be selfish to pine for these things, but when loneliness and anxiety are always waiting impatiently for the chance to flood their way into my mind, I think pining for love is justified.  Lord knows I'm lucky to have as much coming my way as I do.  But right now, sitting alone on the couch, I'm trying hard to remember what it feels like to feel warm arms around me and kind words whispered in my ear.  In the meantime, I'll relish my blanket, my music, and my loneliness solitude.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

White Girl Problems

First of all, a disclaimer.  I do NOT use Twitter.  I am morally opposed to it.  (buthaverecentlybeguntoconsiderchangingmyopinionandcreatinganaccountshhhhhh)

However, it has been pointed out to me that one can read Twitter feeds without actually having an account.  So, on the recommendation of a friend, I started reading this feed that basically talks about "white girl problems."  Problems that are - self-admittedly - the kind of problems that only privileged, white, I'm-kind-of-obsessed-with-myself girls have.  An analogous phrase would be "first-world struggs (struggles)."  The feed is decently funny, but what I find funnier is the frequency with which I've begun identifying these moments in my own life and laughing at them - and at myself for having them.  Because, honestly, think about your day.  How many times do you get annoyed or aggravated by something that could only be considered a first-world/white girl problem/struggle?  I'm guessing somewhere between "a lot" and "all the time."

Here are some recent examples of Alix's and my personal contributions to this topic:

The coffee shop isn't brewing coffee because the machine is broken. WTF?  Fine, I'll have an Americano.

My size four jeans are big on me.
My psychiatrist is running an hour late because of a patient emergency.  Now I can't get coffee.

Would everyone on Sitter City . com please chill out with the job requests?  JEEZE.

Why haven't my new GAP pants been delivered yet?  It's been, like, three days.

Hey Autocorrect on my iPhone - stop changing "whoopsies" to "poodles."

Our Netflix queue needs updating.  You do it.

Why am I out of SmartWater?  And why is it so damn expensive?! 

When we are anywhere outside of New York City: Why the hell is everything closed?!  It's only 9 PM!

Second disclaimer: Alix and I are not actually this self-obsessed.  You have to understand that this a condensed collection of thoughts from the last couple of weeks.  And truthfully, start asking yourself whether your "problems" during the day are any more serious than "ours."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Dog Days

I had a rough day today.  And the worst part?  It's marking the beginning a long journey of rough, rough days ahead.  Instead of dwelling on that though, here's what I'm grateful for and happy about right this minute:

1.  The song, "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.  It's on repeat, and has been for almost a week.
     1.a.  This youtube video of said song.  Makes me want to cry, it's so freaking adorable.

2.  Finding some great new work clothes for Alix today.  We met this fantastic personal shopper who got super excited about us getting married (in a year) and gave us her personal contact information so that she can help us pick out wedding dresses.
3.  I am wearing a new sweatshirt I bought last week and it's extremely comfortable and cozy and is making me feel all warm and fuzzy and comfy.
4.  I have a fantastic friend that is there for me every. single. day.  She gets me.  She loves me.  I'm so lucky.

I think four is good for now, don't you?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Here's to You, Mama

I have your eyes.
"One more baby?" you asked Dad.  "Please?"

You carried me for 40 long weeks.

You toasted my entrance to the world with champagne. 

You pierced my ears that day.  (I still have those earrings.)

You nursed me, literally and physically until you were drained.

I can only hope that my laughs, love, and kisses were enough to make it worth it.

I am who I am today because of you.

I can only hope to be a mama like you someday.

Happy Mother's Day.  You are my mama, forever.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


My day:

Annoying -- the coffee shop isn't brewing coffee so I had to get a latte instead.  I don't like lattes.  I like alargecoffeewithskimmilkandtwosplendakthanxbye

Got over it -- the latte tasted good.  And I had them add an extra shot of espresso so I was raring to go.

Happy happy -- Bean crawled over to me the minute I came in and pulled himself up on my leg for a cuddle.  I see this boy only three times a week, and I've been there less than a month and yet...he loves me.  I don't know why or how, but he does.  And oh, how I love him back.

Peaceful -- Bee playing in the backyard, the door open wide, morning sunshine spilling into the kitchen as I did laundry, ran the dishwasher, and called my mom while Bean napped.

Disheartening -- Picking LM up from school only to hear from his teachers that he had (another) meltdown today and that his listening is not so good.  This was actually a worse report than what I got at Tuesday's pickup, which was his worst report yet.

Heartwrenching-but-secretly-makes-my-heart-jump-with-joy -- One of LM's teachers routinely holds onto Bean while I get the report about LM and get him into his coat so we can head home.  Today, Bean clung to me and protested when I passed him over.  LM's teacher said, as she handed him back a few minutes later (he was desperately reaching for me), "That boy sure has fallen in love with you fast."

"Frustrating"-cannot-even-begin-to-describe-it -- LM and me this afternoon.  Battle.  Meltdown.  Thinking bench.  Repeat.  No The BFG reading together because there was so much time spent on the thinking bench.

Relief -- Bean and Bee both waking up happy from their naps, no drama over afternoon snack, packing everyone up to go for a quick walk to the library.

Joy -- Seeing my boys get so excited about books that I had to oh-so-gently restrain them from checking out every book in the library.

Laughs -- The man on the street on the walk home, saying, "Right on," as I explained to LM that police officers are only needed to take care of people who do really bad things, not kids who do bad things, because kids have moms and dads and nannies who take care of those problems and that besides, kids don't do things bad enough to warrant police officers.  (And no, I'm not going to discuss things like Columbine with a four-year-old.)

Success -- I am a rockstar nanny who can manage to feed a very hungry baby his dinner while reading a new library book to two other kids while their father makes their dinner.  The half hour pre-dinner was actually trouble-free for the first time EVER.

Hope -- "LM, can we try to have a better week, starting Monday?  I love you.  Night, buddy."

Anticipation -- Best. Friend. Visiting. Arriving. So. Soon.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

So It Goes

What kind of night are you having if you feel compelled to create an iTunes playlist called, "sad, sad songs"?

Not a very good one, it turns out.

The kind of night where your therapist looked at you sympathetically at one point during your session and said, "You must be exhausted, trying to get through each day."

Yes.  Yes, I am.

And the only thing I can think of to do is...go to bed.

Tomorrow is a new day.



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Out of clutter, find simplicity.

Part I: Tucker resting in bag.
Part II: Tucker inspecting said bag.
Part III: Tucker realizing that perhaps his explorations have gone too far.

Like?  Dislike?  Don't care?

Even more unrelated...

Quote of the day:
Me: "Bee, are you excited to go see Alix at the coffee shop before we pick up LM from school?"
Bee: "Yes!  I like Alix more than zebras."

No. Joke.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Bee, in my arms, idly playing with the neckline of my sweater.  His head is lagging towards my shoulder, ready for a nap.

"Caywin, do you have a baby?"
"No, sweets, I don't."
"Why not?"
"Bee, if I had a baby, would I be here taking care of you boys all the time, or would I be home taking care of my baby?"
"Home taking care of your baby."
"That's right.  Having a baby is a someday dream of mine.  Someday I'll have one."
"Is it in your belly?!"
"No, silly, not yet.  Someday is a long way off.  For now, I have you boys.  And that's more than enough for me."

And so it goes.
There are days, often, when I wonder how it is possible for me to love so much.
How can one heart grow, over and over, after breaking again and again, only to love again?
How can I love so recklessly and with such abandon, knowing that it is this love that will break me again?
I don't know the answer.
All I know is that I wouldn't want it any other way.