Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ripped Off Of My Facebook Page.. 34 Arcane Facts About Me

1. I lived on a boat in the Hudson for about five years. We named it Moveable Feast (after Hemmingway’s book, not Easter). I prided myself in having the western-most bedroom in NYC and a year-round tan. Now I live on land and have surrendered my western-most bedroom status in favor of a bedroom in the middle of the Hell’s Kitchen. And I worry about skin cancer.

2. I have a college degree and two Masters and still think I will be someday going back to school again.

3. I have lived in New York City for almost two decades and consider myself an official New Yorker. That means I walk really fast; I get annoyed at throngs of tourists standing in front of subway stairs; and I complain continuously about city living. We have no plans to leave any time soon.

4. Last year we bought my mother’s house in Locust Valley, the not-so-happy home I grew up in. We are, in effect, my mother’s landlord, which can be a very awkward position to be in.

5. My childhood and adolescence were not happy ones. My friendships from those times are the only bright spots.

6. My 30s are amazing.

7. I have had two or three miscarriages, depending on your definition: One was a regular run-of-the-mill miscarriage in my uterus. But the second/third was twins: One baby died in my uterus and, a month later, the other was found in my fallopian tube. The ectopic was the worst physical pain I have ever experienced, and I have a lengendary tolerance for pain. That emotional grief will always be woven into the fabric of me.

8. I remember the first three times Nicole told me she loved me. The ones after that start to blur.

9. My family moved to Connecticut when I was in third grade and I began a life as a shoplifter. Paging Dr. Freud. Nobody suspected the chubby, innocent-looking, big-cheeked girl with glasses of stuffing toys, books, Smurfs and stuffed animals into the picnic basket purse she carried as a purse. Suckers. I can assure you that phase ended and I no longer steal.

10. Well, that is not entirely true. I was bulk shopping at BJs and bought one of those huge flats of formula and the cashier mistakenly charged me for only one can, instead of eight. I didn’t say a word and when I got outside of the store I called Nicole, all excited about this bounty of unexpected free riches. She told me that it was wrong and I should go back inside and pay for the rest. I thought about for a minute, but the third grader in me won that moral dilemma.

11. Brevity, as you can see, is not one of my strong points.

12. I love dizzy spells, which I have almost every day (low blood pressure). Little dots swirl in front of my eyes and my vision tunnels and the world goes black for a nanosecond or two. But then I feel this amazing peace and clarity and everything just feels so right. It is this encompassing feeling during which I feel like I just figured out the secrets of the universe. And then I come to.

13. I am feriousoulsy loyal to my friends; that is a good thing. I am also very, very sensitive; that can be a bad thing.

14. I usually express myself better in writing. So I will write manifestos for Nicole, give them to her, watch her read them and then we discuss their content.

15. Almost every day I think how great it is to spend the rest of my life with my best friend. I am sad for people who settle in their relationships. I am at peace with my past, because I truly believe that everything that happened brought me to this place. And it is a great place to be.

16. My body responds alarmingly fast to exercise. It also responds alarmingly fast to lack of exercise. With this in mind, I run four miles a day, six days a week. At least, I try.

17. I never ran before, and believed others who told me I didn’t have the right body-type to be a runner. But I used to love how my friend Molly talked about it. It seemed like something she really enjoyed, something that provided emotional benefits along with the physical ones. Under her tutelage, I started running and now officially consider myself a runner. One day, I want to run a marathon with Molly.

18. I only wear shades of red rail polish. Every time I am getting manicure I try to pick a new color and I really can’t. I might need a color intervention.

19. I love pretzels, but they have to be Herr’s sourdough nuggets, and I love Gummi bears, but they have to be Haribo. I am and always have been an extremely picky eater.

20. I never thought that I would have children and I never wanted them. And then Nicole and I got together and all these things that I never wanted (children, marriage, forever, jewelry) became things I wanted very, very much.

21. My nephew was the first thing (for lack of a better word) that I loved instantly. It was the most powerful thing I have ever felt in my life. I felt it again when my niece was born and when Madeline and Avery were born. It is so different growing love, but in the end, it is all love, regardless of its genesis.

22. My nephew’s birth changed my life. One the day he was born, I quit the job at the magazine I where I was working and decided to go back to school.

23. We named Madeline after a cookie. Before Nicole and I started officially dating, we had a discussion about Proust’s book (we are not as pretentious as that sounds), which prominently features Madeline cookies. Nicole said she never tasted a Madeline cookie. The next day I bought some from my favorite French bakery in Chelsea and messengered them to Nicole’s office. She said that when she got that package of cookies, she thought for the first time that maybe just maybe I had feelings for her too. It marked a turning point in our relationship. On an interesting note, last year that bakery opened a second shop coincidentally down the street from us, of all the places in the city. I think that is confirmation from the universe that everything is as it should be.

24. We are not sure, but Avery’s name might have been inspired in part by Avery paper products, of which I had many, since I was in grad school while I was pregnant. We need to come up with a more romantic story so Avery doesn’t feel slighted. “Yes, honey, you were named after a binder” just seems so mean.

25. I am a power sight-seer. I can tour a city’s sights in under two hours, museums included. I prefer to spend my time in foreign places exploring bookstores, supermarkets and the rail system. This, I feel, gives one the best flavor of a new place.

26. I have amazing will power, when I want to tap into it. I quit smoking about eight years ago and haven’t had a drop of alcohol in six years. I miss both sometimes but know my life is so much better this way.

27. I am confused by people who insist I wasn’t an alcoholic. Because drinking liters of scotch in a couple days; staying out drinking till four am; blacking out all the time and waking up and wondering happened the night before and where that feather boa came from; almost drowning because you are too drunk to pull yourself out of the water… these are things that happen to people without drinking problems all the time. But since I never drank in the morning or could go a week without drinking every once in a while, some people think I am overreacting.

28. I think one of the benefits of same-sex relationships is that if we ever end up in a nursing home, we can room together.

29. I am scared of cancer. Every once in a while, I think about all those scary cancer statistics about how many cancer cases there are on Long Island and I think, thank God I don’t live there. And then I remember I lived there for 18 years.

30. You can tell I am a Long Islander because I say “on Long Island” and not “in Long Island.” But I don’t have a trace of a Long Island accent.

31. I worry about this economy and about Nicole’s career. She does, after all, work at a bank. But I am convinced that nothing bad can happen to us, even if she were layed off. I feel safe, secure, content, happy, lucky and invincible, even in the valleys of unhappy times. As long as we have each other, we are all fine. This, I believe, is what being in a family is supposed to feel like.

32. The only way I could write this list was by plopping Madeline and Avery in front of Sesame Street. I am mother of the year.

33. I warned you that brevity wasn’t my strong suit.

Friday, January 23, 2009

And I Still Can't Get His Name Straight

So a feather was found on the wing of that plane that used the Hudson as a landing strip. One feather!? This plane’s engines seized because of one feather? Is this what they are trying to tell us? And if one feather is found on the wing a week after the accident isn’t it logical to think this might be a new feather from a random bird of someone’s winter down jacket?

I don’t like thinking my flying life depends on the wind’s direction and bird migration patterns and feathers and wind shear and freak weather events. This isn’t going to make flying easier for me.

Nicole flies off to Boston today and will be there overnight. Which means two solid days alone with the girls. Which is fine, except I worry about nighttime. Two nights ago, Madeline had another bout of night terrors. It was just awful. And it took a while to get her back to sleep for good. And last night, Avery woke up for no reason at all. She wakes up in the middle of the night for no reason at all maybe every three months. Last night was that night. Nicole brought her to bed with us and she sat between us for two hours chatting up a storm while Nicole and I struggled to sleep and played the “whoever seems to be sleeping harder doesn’t have to be responsible for making sure that the baby stays safe on the bed” game. Avery’s late night culminated with her saying “eyes” in this high-pitched falsetto voice over and over again, while poking at Nicole’s eyes. At that point, I was deemed the one to bring her back to her crib. And she went, without a peep, back to her crib and slept the rest of the night. My point here? Please please please let the ladies sleep like angels tonight.

Since the temperature is going to be over 30 degrees today, I am venturing out with the girls, who will be bundled up in hats and mittens and puffy coats and blankets. I am so looking forward to the spring and summer and taking long walks and visiting the playground without hats and mittens and puffy coats and blankets. Being cooped up indoors is just plain hard. Thank goodness for Sesame Street. I try to limit the viewing to two shows a day: Once before naptime and again around 4, when everyone, including myself, start going a little cabin-fever crazy. But once spring comes, I intend to downgrade to one show a day. More best paid plans.

One more reason I am proud to be an American: Remember that milk problem in China back in the summer? How the factories used some chemicals in formula and milk? Some of the people involved in that are sentenced to DEATH and some others are sentenced to life in prison. Now I don’t want to get into a death penalty argument here (well, actually I don’t mind) but killing some of these people for their mistakes, isn’t that extreme? Granted, thank god no one I knew suffered or died, but even if they did, I would like to think I am evolved enough to not wish death on another human. Also in China news, parts of Obama’s inauguration speech were censored. Nice.

And still I have to say “Barack Obama” in my head in order to figure out which is his first name and which is his last. I wonder if I can get it right over the next four or eight years. And it looks like Joe Biden is going to live up to his foot-in-mouth reputation. That memory joke was not so nice.

Pictured above, Avery worshipping at the alter of Sesame. And below that, newspapers that will be added to the girls’ collection of saved newspapers. I bought tons of copies to save and give away and sell on eBay.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Beauty is Objectively Obvious, Don’t You Know?

This cold weather is really starting to wear me down and reduce me to a pale, wan nub of my former self. The girls and I are in a self-imposed lockdown because I deem it too chilly for recreational walks or outings. We have been indoors for almost two weeks now. If it weren’t for my morning gym jaunts, I would never see a spot of sky. I don’t think the girls even remember what Outside looks like.

Who’s brilliant idea was it to have inaugurations in January? Why couldn’t history have selected a warmer month, when perhaps being outside for hours on end wouldn’t lead to frostbite or hypothermia? While our nation’s 44th president is sworn in amidst a crowd that numbers epic proportions, I will be watching, alone, since it is smack dab in the middle of nap time, from the comfort and solitude of my couch. It loses a bit of its shine, this whole shindig, when there is no one to share it with. I have to add that I am also looking forward to this all be over, though. I am tired of seeing, reading, hearing, breathing and living Inauguration. Let’s just move on and, I don’t know, change the world or something.

The other day, Avery did two things, one endearing and the other not so much so. First, I think she called Maddie “Addie.” It might have been a coincidence or just another random ramble, but I would like to think that maybe just maybe she was addressing her sister with a name instead of a grunt or squeal. We have been waiting for this moment for a while now, the moment when both girls start calling the other some butchered form of their name. Later on, while arguing over who had the rights to a favorite book, Avery pulled out a clump of Madeline’s hair. And I mean clump. Madeline has a bald spot in the middle of her head now. Madeline has such wispy cotton-candy hair anyway, and this missing patch doesn’t help matters. Mattie, ever the trooper, cried for about 12 seconds and then resumed playing as if she wasn’t missing one-third of her hair. That child is strong and brave.

Thanks to the peanut butter salmonella scare, my breakfast has been downgraded from peanut butter on toast to its much boring version of just toast. Ugh. I didn’t realize just how much energy the peanut butter gave me. For the past couple of days I have felt a little more sluggish than normal. Of course, this could all be in my head. But I need to find a quick and easy breakfast alternative because taking two-hour naps while the girls are napping is not the best or most effective use of my time.

Two things I have sucked at this year, so far: Updating this blog and adding a new picture every day to the 365 blog. While the 365 blog is an opportunity for me to practice various photography techniques, I also do want to use it to desensitize myself to pictures of me. Because I really need to do that. According to a commenter, I am objectively obviously beautiful. It really is a nice thing to say, but it would be an even nicer thing to really, truly, honestly feel.

Miracle in the Hudson. I have to say there is a part of me that is jealous that these people were forced to confront a seemingly imminent demise and then get a second chance at life. I wonder how these survivors are looking at life now? I wonder if they look at pictures of themselves and think, wow, I look ugly? Or maybe there are just so happy to be alive that their priorities were straightened out and their perspective was focused and their lives were instantly sharpened and changed in such a way that all that crap just sloughs off. The type of life overhaul that only comes about after a near-death experience, a religious awakening, a bout with a life-threatening illness or the devastating loss of a loved on. Maybe I am silly to think a picture-a-day can do anything closely resembling this.

Pictured above, the difference of three seconds. Like a flash, Avery is off. And Mattie and her fingers.

Monday, January 12, 2009

This Post Is Brought to You by Tivo'd Sesame Street

Today is one of those days when my children smell like Sausage McMuffins for no apparent reason. They are clean, in laundered clothes and have never even had sausage. And yet, they smell like McMuffins of the sausage variety. Go figure.

So last night was a first of the terrifying kind. We think Madeline had an episode of night terrors. She started crying about two hours after we put her down. This is not unusual: She sometimes awakes and cries for literally five seconds and then settles down again in her deep, thirteen hour nighttime slumber. But last night, when her crying continued for over a minute, we decided to intervene.

Nicole gathered up Maddie and brought her into our bedroom, where she preceded to cry that awful, hysterical, hiccupy cry for a half hour. She has never done this before. Never. Nothing would calm her down. Her eyes were all squinty and she was not acting normal at all. We checked her diaper and looked very her body to see if there was anything hat cold cause her distress, but there was nothing. We called the doctor, who told us to call back in a half hour if she was not acting normal again. When we put her down on our bed, she would roll over and scramble to the to of the bed, as if she was being chased by scary giant spiders. She let us hold her, but did spend lot of time writhing.

Desperate, Nicole decided to bring Maddie into her room again to show her Avery. And believe it our not, once she saw Avery, she came to and calmed down. Unbelievable. Even more unbelievable was the fact that Avery slept through the entire ordeal, even as Maddie wailed next to her crib. I am hoping this is a one-off experience.

We wonder if separation anxiety had anything to do with this. I brought Madeline to a birthday party on Long Island and Nicole stayed home with Avery. So the girls spent the entire day apart, which they haven’t done since they were four months, I think. By the time I got home, it was time for dinner, then pajamas and then bed. Maybe Madeline was missing her twin?

I am taking my 365 pictures, but don’t get around to posting them every day. I have turned the focus less on myself and more on my world. Why? Well, yes, not enjoying pictures of myself is a main reason. And while so many of you so bravely are showing everything and learning from the experience, I am taking the easy way out. I need to work up to it, this exposing me thing. I really do.

I’m curious, and feel free to comment anonymously, but those of you (and so many women fall into this category) who hate their bodies or dislike their bodies or admonish themselves for being not stick thin, what do you think when you see other people who are not the so-called ideal weight? Most people will tell others “Oh, you look great” but will put themselves down. Do you secretly think “You are fat like me” or do you really think they are jus fine, and you are the one with the issue?

There’s been a snag in my Running With the Babies plans: Arctic chill weather. Looks like I will be running back on the treadmill for the next week. In fact, I might as well only run indoors unless the temps get above 40. I don’t want running to be an awful experience for them, or me. Leave it to me to pick this new running style in the middle of winter.

Pictured above, one of my favorite recent pictures of Nicole. She, she smiles with her eyes. Me, I have a cold, vacant, scared look that tries to convey messages such as “How awful will this look?” and "Please stop taking pictures of me."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Running Up That [Long, Terrifying, Steep, Huge] Hill

After about two months of research and ridiculous indecisiveness, I finally gave in and bought a new stroller, the Bob Revolution for two. It is huge and has giant wheels, but that makes it very easy to push and steer and navigate. And now I can go running with the girls.

I know. It seems crazy. But I have been longing to transition from treadmill runner to outdoor runner for a while. I know this isn’t going to be easy. But I am going to do it, dammit, and the girls are going to do it with me.

We (weird to say) went running for the first time today in Central Park yesterday. Here’s how outdoor running is different from treadmill running:

• There are real hills, not “inclines.” Central Park is filled with these annoying hills in size, small, medium, and are you kidding me, and there is no button to make them smaller. Believe me, I looked. Running uphill is murder, for obvious reasons. But running downhill, much to my chagrin, is not much easier. I thought that I would just sort of roll-glide to the bottom of a downward slope. Instead, I found myself gaining speed a little too quickly and then needing to apply downhill body brakes, which causes me to access muscles I don’t usually use.
• There are many, many more people around me. Hundreds, perhaps. Runners, walkers, power-walkers, bikers, people heading to work and dog walkers. The gym at 5:30 in the morning is pretty empty, except for the sauntering Rush t-shirt wearing tough guy who busts out dance moves between sets; the bearded, Mostly Mozart Festival t-shirt wearing, Times-reading recumbent biker and the short-haired treadmill walker who looks like a woodpecker.
• There is no television in front of me. I miss my morning shot of news. Now how will I know what the traffic is like?
• On a treadmill I can run four or five miles. Monday, outside, in Central Park, I managed a paltry one and a quarter before puttering out to a fast walk which then turned into me pretending to be fixing Avery’s glove but really catching my breath. Today I got all the way up to a mile and a half. It’s going to be a long road. I am currently googling “flattest parts of Central Park to run.”
• Let’s just say I wasn’t running at my typical pace.
• I love having the girls with me. Maddie seemed really Zen and into the whole experience, all cuddled up in her fuzzy pajamas and coat and hat and mittens and blanket. Avery was so very excited every time she saw a dog, of which there are many in the park, which means Avery was excited pretty much the entire time.

I am going to keep going, though, and figure within a month I can double my miles and within two, be back to my old pace and distance. At least, that is my intention, winter and crazy hills be damned.

And the bean thing strikes again. Since we bought the new stroller I put our old stroller up to sale…and it sold!

Pictured above, my new running partners.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Get Thee to a Beanery

I have never had any New Year’s traditions that I have followed, unless you count nursing a hangover or breaking resolutions by nightfall, back when I made them. But last year I read somewhere that you are supposed to eat black-eye peas on January 1st to bring good luck and fortune. I figured it can’t hurt, so I bought a can, but promptly forgot about it once I put the can in my cabinet. Out of sight, out of mind. 2008 has come and gone and who knows if it would have been better had we had the beans. For all I know, I totally screwed us.

This year, I start seeing tons of articles/news segments/chatter about eating the beans and also lentils. Perhaps a recession concession. So I buy some lentils and pull that can of black-eyed peas out of the cabinet. I cook both in olive oil and add some salt and pepper and viola, New Year’s Day breakfast. (I added a fun corollary: The beans had to be the first food we ate in 2009. Mmmm….beans and coffee!) I made Nicole eat it and the girls had to have bites. Maddie liked the beans but not the lentils. Avery liked neither. Nicole indulged me and grimaced her way through her portion

Well, all I have to say is go eat beans. It is working already! On January second, I got another editing job and on January third, I got a sizable check as a down payment for my services. This is not something I tried for; it literally fell into my lap. It’s the beans, I say. Now I have a lot of work to do, but a little hard work never hurt. I did want this to be a productive year and it is starting out that way.

And the girls had good luck too: On January seconds, just 24 hours after having a bite o’ beans, the girls received balloons, which are their favorite things right now. Well, at least they are Maddie’s favorite thing.

The next couple of months are already jammed packed. What happened to hibernation? It starts next weekend and ends in early March. (But there are very big March plans, which I will write about later). At the end of February I have a date with a medium. Yes, someone who speaks with the dead. Not a date-date, but a planned reading, I guess. Has anyone else done this? I have no idea what to expect, but it should be an interesting experience. I asked my sister-in-law if she wanted to come and she said “Does the medium speak Japanese?” Which brought up a good question: Do mediums need translators? Does my Japanese sister-in-law need a Japanese-speaking medium? Or do the dead speak some sort of universal language?

Every year I mean to collect the ridiculous predictions of psychics so I can look back at the end of the year and see if they are accurate. And every year I don’t. But is anyone anywhere keeping track of these predictions? I did see one man on TV predict that something bad was going to happen to some member of a boy band (Jonas brothers?) that has to do with fish. I think it was on the Today Show. He made some other predictions but I was distracted.

The only plan for tomorrow, other than work and children, is a napoleon at Bergamot. And I think we should be eating a bite of beans every day. We need all the luck we can get in 2009.

Pictured above, new year’s Day breakfast, which was followed later by Nana’s Secret recipe Pancakes. Below that, fire. The girls practiced saying Hot Hot Hot. And on the bottom, now that is a conversation piece, at our friends' apartment.