Goodbye, Russell Street.

Today was the last day we had access to our old apartment, an apartment we lived in for four years.

The picture below was taken the first few days we moved in, before our furniture arrived from San Francisco. Tobyjoe was hijacking the neighbor’s wireless network.

That same network is open and available today.

So much happened while living at Russell Street. I saw my early 30s under that roof. I got a job on Madison Avenue and quit it too. I met some lifelong friends. I got pregnant and had my first child while living under that roof. I said goodbye to a dear friend, as well as a beloved member of our family. I became a mother while living there, a fact that still blows my mind.

All in all, it was a nice home. Sure, its walls were totally uneven to the floor and everything leaned to one side. Our son’s toys often rolled north. But nothing in Brooklyn is perfect.

This morning I went over there by myself to finish cleaning and to remove the few remaining items. I went alone.

It was nice being there by myself. I spent most of that time lost in thought, walking from one end of the railroad apartment to the other—a physical timeline—inspecting our years with my hands, trying to remove our fingerprints, erase any proof of our having lived there.

A person can build up a heckuva lot of proof over four years. And that much proof is almost impossible to erase. But I tried.

Change, whether it be good or bad, has always been a funny thing for me. It almost always brings with it a side order of depression. So the last couple of weeks have been difficult. I admitted to Toby Joe just yesterday that I haven’t felt this sad, this emotionally troubled, since the months following Emory’s birth.

This is chemistry I’m talking about here. I have no control over it.

After we hand over our keys today, I imagine that soon they will coat the place with yet another layer of paint. They will cover up Schmitty’s paw prints that sit underneath our old bedroom window. They’ll cover up the holes we drilled into our bedroom door in order to install a latch. They’ll paint over the ghosted picture frame edges, our fingerprints—proof of our having been there at all.

But I reckon that no matter how hard one works to cover it up, pieces of us will remain there forever.

And so I think it’s time I move along, albeit sighing slightly.

Goodbye, Russell Street.

And hello, 2009.

The Truth About The MMR

Emory received his MMR immunization last Monday. We were told that any side effects associated with this vaccine would kick in after 7 to 10 days. We hit day seven and nothing happened and we thought, “Awesome! We’re in the clear!”

We were wrong.

Yesterday I noticed a few red spots on his face—just four—and lifted his shirt to check for more. Sure enough, there were a few more spots on his torso. At that point I took his temperature—a solid 100 degrees.

He was cranky all day, but it wasn’t any worse than whenever he cut his molars. We gave him some Tylenol and he was fine by morning. He’s back to his usual, insane, toddling self.

But we did notice something regarding the MMR and its apparent side-effects. They won’t tell you about this. So I am going to take the opportunity to do so. I hope you’re prepared. You may even want to sit down.

The MMR makes babies speak. It’s true! I watched it happen.

Prior to having been vaccinated, Em said a few words such as Mama, Dada, (a warped version of) Kitty Cat (that sounded like “Keecah”), Night Night (that sounded like this: “Nighnah”) and Hi. That’s pretty much it.

But since receiving the MMR words have been flying out. He’s like a little tape recorder! He now says Cracker, Blue, Blueberries, Mama (clear as day), Kitty Cat, Daddy, Hi, Elmo, Baby, Finished (not very well, however), Bubble and One, Two, Three.

I have deduced that the MMR vaccine makes babies speak. It may sound absurd, but then again, so does suggesting it causes autism.

Speaking of the MMR, there is a fantastic This American Life episode about a family who refused the MMR for their child. At age seven, he traveled overseas and brought the measles virus back home with him. The episode is about how he and his family brought an entire town to a screeching halt.

While all of that may sound really serious, it’s actually very funny. It’s well worth the listen.

(I know! Can you believe how much I’ve changed when it comes to immunizations? I am shocked by my transformation!)

Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 74)

We’ve been in the apartment now for almost two weeks. Things are coming along. We’re slowly unpacking and getting things in order. It’s been hard, because they are still not finished with the actual building, which has been contentious. We feel we’re paying a lot of money to live here. The elevator still isn’t working (we’re on the fifth floor), there is still a great deal of construction going on around us (a problem whenever Em is napping), we’re still waiting on lights, and we still have no idea how to get our mail.

But we’re making due. And don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great things about it, and those great things far outnumber the problems. (I don’t want anyone out there to think I’m ungrateful.) We’re slowly getting to know, understand and love our new home.

There is one person in our family, however, who is having a great deal of trouble warming up to the place.

Murray hides from 8 AM until 5 PM, Monday through Friday. It’s almost like he has a full time job. Between those hours, Murray is out of sight. He doesn’t visit the litterbox, he doesn’t come out for scritches, he doesn’t even eat. (I know! A SHOCKER!)

But that doesn’t mean we don’t know exactly where he is, quite the contrary. Between 8 AM and 5 PM, you know exactly where to find Murray—in a little mound underneath our bedspread.

He knows when the construction workers enter the building long before we do. He knows they’re here before we hear the first hammer hit its first nail, before we feel the first boot slap the hallway floors, and before they fire up their buzz saws, drills, or whatever.

Sometimes we see him take cover. Suddenly, his legs will deflate, he’ll lower his belly to the ground and run commando style into our bedroom.

I am hoping that this is only a phase and that it ends soon because I miss his daily antics.

So Much To Report!

… and so little time. So here are a few pictures. I will be back soon with a proper update.

This was taken during our first snowfall, or shortly thereafter whenever the snow turned to rain and the whole city became one slushy puddle.

This is Em’s new room, although, it’s not quite finished yet. The Wall Candy Dots were taken from his previous bedroom. (For those of you who have ever wondered if the dots can be taken off of one wall, stuck on top of one another, and later peeled apart to be placed on another wall across town, the answer is yes. You can save them. They aren’t as perfect, but it sure beats spending another 50 bucks!)

This is of our living room, which isn’t quite finished yet.

And here is a shot of Em I took this morning while we were at McCarren Park collecting sticks.

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday. I would also like to wish you a Happy New Year just incase I am unable to update before Wednesday. (Not likely, though. Things are settling down nicely.)

Also, thank you!

Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 73)

Murray has always enjoyed playing fetch. But in the new place, with the sleek bamboo floors and all, he’s really into it. I think he likes to slide and then fall down. I think he thinks he an action hero from a major motion picture. I think he thinks he’s a lot more badass than he really is. I think he knows that we adore him.

This was taken this morning. We were doing morning things, enjoying it, enjoying one another’s company.

I hope you enjoy it too.

Thanks to everyone who stops by to visit Murray each and every week. Your comments and email mean a great deal to us. I love that he’s loved.

Thank you.

Emory Is Starting School!

Emory is starting school in January. He’ll be there Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This comes as bittersweet news, naturally. On the one hand, I would love to get back designing and writing again. On the other, I’m really going to miss him. I think this will be good for him, though. My feelings aside, he likes to be around other kids and at this particular school, he’ll be with the same ten kids each day he’s there. Plus, they have music class, language class and art class. Which is awesome. I’m really excited for him.

I am worried about the food situation, however. Emory is not an eater. He is very picky. Generally speaking, if it’s not a fruit or a vegetable, good luck getting him to eat it. He will eat bread sometimes, as well as cheese (but not too often) and meat tends to freak him out (although, we’ve only tried chicken, fish and turkey). We’re working on the eating thing. He loves his milk. He lives for the milk. I haven’t ever seen a creature drink and desire so much milk! He’s picky so I got a little worried whenever I read over through manual.

They don’t allow nuts (makes sense), peanuts (of course), whole apples with any skin (Em likes the skin), grapes (unless they’re cut up in fours), string cheese (unless it’s diced up. Part of the reason Em eats string cheese is because he thinks it’s fun to pull apart), dried cranberries, or raisins.

We’ll make due with most of it. But raisins? Raisins? Emory loves raisins, like, they are the most awesome snack on planet earth. He lets out a joyous gasp whenever he sees the container.

He’s going to miss his raisins probably as much as I’m going to miss him.

As evident in the video above, we’re still trying to get settled into our new home. Naturally this is going to take some time, especially considering parts of it are still under construction, which has Murray in a tizzy. He just doesn’t like all the hammering on the 6th floor, the strange smells, the weird voices coming from the hallway.

We’ve had some growing pains with the move. Moving always comes with some setbacks, but deep down I know that things are going to be great. The cost of living here is almost double our previous rent and we had an overlap of rents. We’re entering the Christmas season. We owed the school its first installment. Murray had the whole vet fiasco last month. Things are hitting all at once, and this has put a huge dent in our savings. But I suppose that’s what a savings is for. There’s been some bickering. Transitions (for this family) don’t come without some fender benders. I owe my husband a massage and a night out with friends for sure.

I know he could use some rest.

So! If anyone out there knows of anyone who needs some design work done—production, layout, even dancing the Charleston—please let me know. I am all yours. I need to pull my weight somehow, especially now.

Edited to add: To those of you who emailed, called, and commented about how amazed you were at how delicate Em was with the can of raisins, this is how Em normally deals with his snacks. :]

Emory Takes His First Photographs

The other night while I was putting away groceries, Em grabbed my camera from off of the kitchen table, placed it on the floor (lens up) and took about 70 pictures. The first 45 looked a lot like this:

After I realized what was going on, I got in on the action.

And then Murray walked over to see what all the commotion was about.

I thought I’d share!

Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 72)

Moving Day!

I have a question for you cat lovers out there. We don’t yet have heat or hot water (gas) at our new apartment. It’s not unlivable for a grown adult (the building is “green” so it’s quite insulated) but I am worried about the cats. Would you leave them in an empty apartment (we have the old one until the 31st) where it’s heated? Or would you move them to the new one where they are surrounded by their stuff but are a little cold? Either way, they’ll be alone for much of the day as TJ has to work and I will be in New Jersey with the baby (whom I miss like you wouldn’t believe) until this heat fiasco gets worked out. These guys are like family to me. I want them to be as comfortable as possible. Any insight you may have is greatly appreciated.

UPDATE: We’re IN! And the cats are fine. The apartment is tolerable with the use of a space heater. (Good thing NYC apartments are tiny!) Murray is a bit freaked out by the continuing construction. He hid for the first 5 hours. And then at around 9 PM he came strolling out looking for handouts. So we put him to work and then fed him treats.

I am in Jersey getting my Emory fix. (I spent a whopping 4 nights away from him!) I will be back in Brooklyn tomorrow, God willing.

Things are really great, Internet. Thanks so much for your help and words and suggestions.

FU Penguin

I was getting a little tired of staring at myself making out with my cat. I’m sure you were, too. So, in order to push it down a little bit, I would like to introduce you to this wonderfully funny Web site. I think that so far this one is my favorite.

In other news, this week has turned out to be as crazy as I anticipated and it’s not over. I’ve been working nonstop, which means Em has been watching a lot of Jack’s Music Show. I feel bad about that. Plus, today is Toby’s birthday and I haven’t done ANYTHING for him. I feel terrible about that as well. I’ve also not gone to the gym in three days and the apartment is falling down around me. Again, terrible. Plus, it’s raining and my son hasn’t been outside since yesterday. Worse. Did I mention we’re moving this weekend?

Wish I had booze.

Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 71)

I can assure you, this isn’t how it looks.

I can explain. Really.

Edited to add: Many, many moons ago I read something someone posted on an “I Love My Cat” Flickr group. The question was: “Do you kiss your cat?” I thought, “Who doesn’t kiss their cat?” I kiss my cats every chance I get. (If they’ll let me.)

In related kitty news: Lisa and PJ of Empty Cages Collective are holding an adoption event this Saturday at NYC Pet (PARK SLOPE!!!! location) from 1 PM until 6 PM. Please stop by if you can!