Updates On Random

I’m a terrible blogger and getting worse by the day. It’s been, what, a month since I last updated? Is this how things will finally end? Slowly, without realizing they’re going to? I’m sorry. I just don’t know what’s happening.

I never anticipated it ending this way. I always thought I’d get irritated by some other blogger (or whatever) and be done with it once and for all. Or a lurker would send me some hateful email, which has happened many times over the years, and I’d say, “This ain’t worth it! My skin isn’t thick enough!” and finally mean it. But like this? I never thought it’d end like this, like I’m backing out of the room slowly, hoping by the time I let the door close behind me, no one will be left to notice.

I just never thought it would slowly fizzle to nothing. And writing that down makes me feel a little blue.

So! Enough.

Here’s a picture of me after falling asleep with wet hair. Sexy.

Let’s see. I’ve been running. A lot. And then I got a little hurt. I did an 11 miler a week and a half ago and BAM! two days later the outside of my left foot hurt. I haven’t run on it since. I’m hoping that it will heal entirely by this Saturday’s race. This past weekend, things weren’t looking so good. But it’s better today and has been for over 48 hours. So I’m going to give it a shot. The worst that will happen is I’ll get out there, start running and find I’m still injured and can’t finish. But I have to try. I must. And I’m excited about it. I love DC. When I found out I hadn’t made the lottery for the NYC half, I jumped at the chance to do the Rock ‘n Roll half in Washington, DC.

We rented a hotel room right downtown. It has a pool AND a hot tub, which I’m sure I’ll be using assuming I finish the race. It’s also near the Air and Space Museum. And I can’t wait to take Emory. He’s going to love our nation’s capital. I am so excited for him. I’m excited to see my friends, and to run through the streets of a city that means a great deal to me.

What else? I’ve been baking. A lot. I have been baking cakes, muffins, galettes and eclairs (to name a few). And I plan on sharing some recipes, specifically the eclair recipe, because you would not believe how easy it is.

I’m practicing cake combinations for future wedding cakes. This has been oddly fun. The only downside is I’m eating too much of my work and therefore my waistline is expanding. All that weight I lost last fall is inching its way back. Not cool. I felt so awesome back then. So I’m doing Weight Watchers again. I am 10 pounds above my ideal weight and, no, it’s not much, but it’s so easy to slip up and have that rise to 15 and then 20. I don’t want that to happen again.

I’m rambling but at least I’m writing! Something. Anything. Filler? Oh god. No.

We moved! I love our new apartment building. It’s fantastic. We gave up our personal view, but we gained a super patio, a gym, a roof deck, a massive playroom which is often filled with kids. We have a nice kitchen and a bit more (definitely more useable) space. I’m happy here. And we’re right on the East River. So the views from outside (and the roof) are spectacular. I go to the gym during the day while Elliot naps. I wheel him down in the stroller and work out while he sleeps next to me. The view from the gym is of the entire skyline. It’s pretty great.

That’s all for now. I have a bunch of pictures I need to upload, pictures of the new place, all my cakes, the kids. And I’ll do that soon.

And I’m sorry I haven’t written much.

The Big Bag of Change

We’re moving again. We’re moving 6 blocks from where we live now. I’m stressed out and haven’t been able to write or do anything, even shower. But here I am now because the baby’s asleep in the one room that hasn’t been completely taken over by boxes and miscellaneous bullshit no one needs.

Also: for the record? I think hoarders are terrifying. I think I fear them more than cockroaches, clowns and Pillsbury dough cans.

So, we’re packing and moving. And we have this big bag of change living with us. We’ve had this big bag of change since we lived in San Francisco, if I remember correctly. And every day for about 7 years, we’ve tossed our extra change into this bag. Never much at one time, a dime, a nickel, a few quarters. But it kept adding up and adding up and we kept ignoring it. One night, before we had kids, we sat down, opened a bottle of wine and wrapped some of it up. We wrapped 360 bucks back then. Instead of cashing it in, we just put it back in the bag. We’ve added more since then.

This bag of change has some loose change, some wrapped change and some half-wrapped change because we discovered one day that Emory was stealing from our bag of change to fill his piggybank. SMART KID!

But we still have a lot of change.

My parents came up last Sunday so Toby and I could have dinner and celebrate my 38th birthday. As they were leaving, I pushed the giant bag of change onto them. I’m not sure why, really. Because it weighs about 60 pounds. (It weighs 45 pounds. My father weighed it!) But my father slung that bag over his shoulder and walked out of our apartment with the big bag of change.

He called yesterday to let me know what he’s discovered thus far. In loose quarters we have $208.00 dollars. Add that to the wrapped change, and we’re over $500.00 bucks. That amount doesn’t include all the dimes, nickels, or pennies.

At the end of the day, we should have about $700.00 worth of change.

Now, a smart person would use that to cover the move. But I’m not a smart person. I’m a person who looks at that 700 bucks and thinks, FREE MONEY! I suggested we either go out and get a really nice meal OR take it to Atlantic City and put the whole lot of it down on one a hand of blackjack. I also suggested we buy a flat screen TV for our new bedroom.

What frivolous thing might you do with 700.00 extra dollars?

And don’t bore me with things like, PAY OFF MY BILLS! or DONATE IT TO CHARITY!

Runners Are Stupid.

I don’t write much about running. I think that for most people it’s super boring to read about. It’s like hearing about someone’s dream. BORING. So I don’t do it very often. But I run a lot. I’ve been running for years.

Currently, I run four times a week, with long runs on Saturdays. I am training for two half marathons next year. I’m following a novice runner’s schedule. Basically, a variation/combination of this one and this one. It’s a little tricky for me since I’m a full-time mother. Em goes to school, but Elliot is with me every day, all day. So I run at night after Toby gets home from work. And holy crap! It’s been tough!

Y’all. It’s cold out there. And at night it’s even colder. Part of my running route is alongside the East River and sometimes the wind rips at you like a million tiny daggers, like Manhattan is purposefully slapping my face for residing in Brooklyn. Yes, I could change the route, but that would make sense. Plus, have you seen the view from Kent Avenue? It’s awesome! I’m not going to change my route. If I change my route, I wouldn’t get the opportunity to ask myself, “Why are you doing this? You’re just stupid.”

Here’s the deal: I believe to be a decent long distance runner one has to be a lot crazy and a little stupid. People say it’s about endurance, but I think stupidity has a lot to do with it. Why else would you plan on running during a snowstorm? (I’ve got an 7 miler tomorrow during a snowstorm.) Why else would a person come up with something like this to make sure you don’t miss one single mile? Why else would you dress like this? Because you’re a runner and you’re stupid.

Take Stuart Calderwood, for example. As of today, he’s been running every day for 25 years. If he’s not a lot crazy and a little stupid, I don’t know who is. Every day for 25 years. That’s insane!

I kid. A little bit.

In all seriousness, when asked why I run, the answer is simple: I run to beat me out of me. Running is my antidepressant. It has been for years. I outrun my demons. I let thoughts come and go freely. I don’t judge any of them. I don’t hold onto any of them. I don’t let them go too quickly if they’re troubling. It’s my therapy. And it works every time.

I love running.

So! Rain or shine, hot or cold, snow or ice, I make sure to embrace my inner crazy and make her go for a run. And while I’m a little less crazy with every run I complete, there seems to be enough of it to fuel the next one. And I’m totally OK with that.

Or maybe I’m just stupid.

What I Learned From Rolling Paper.

A little over a month ago, a Friday, I was sitting on the couch with Toby when I told him to turn the TV down. “It’s too loud. It’s going to wake up the kids.”

“It’s at 13, Michele.”

Thirteen?!” I asked, shocked. “Are you kidding me?”

“Nope.”

Earlier that day, I’d been to the ear doctor. I don’t like visiting the ear doctor. It’s the only medical professional who consistently gives me bad news. My ears have been a problem since I was a baby.

We went over my history. I have a long one. We did the usual song and dance. I tell him what I’ve had done. He looks into my ears and comments about how damaged they are. There was so much wax in the left ear, he couldn’t even see my eardrum. So he suggested he clean it out with water. I said NO WAY. He tried to suction it out. That didn’t work. That made my ear feel funny, which he took to mean that the previous operation had worked and the hole had indeed sealed shut. He convinced me to clean it out with warm water.

I haven’t ever willingly let water into either one of my ears. Ever. Every time I’ve accidentally gotten water into one of my ears, I’ve ended up in pain and with bloody pus coming out of the sides of my head. So, no. No water. But I let him. And it felt AWESOME, like being touched for the first time after spending decades on a deserted island talking to nothing but a soccer ball.

After he cleaned out the left side of my head, I went in and failed my hearing test. I’m used to that. But this time I failed terribly so.

“You need a hearing aid.” He told me. “Soon.”

“Really?” I wasn’t convinced.

“Yes. It’s time.”

I’ve been saying no to hearing aids for over a decade.

Here’s the thing about hearing loss: it happens over time. You adjust. You read lips. You turn the TV up so loud your neighbors bang on shared walls. It’s a slow deterioration. You adjust so well, you don’t know how bad it really is. I know I am hard of hearing, but I can hear, even if it’s just a little bit. It’s easy to pretend it’s not that bad.

But now I know how bad it is. I’m terribly hard of hearing. And all it took was a piece of rolling paper to make me realize just how much so.

Let me explain.

After we went over my test results, he suggested a temporary fix for the right ear, the one still with the hole. There’s a technique they use for people who have accidents where their eardrum is suddenly punctured, they go from hearing to not hearing in an instant. Their hearing is still there, and will return once the eardrum heals, but they need a temporary fix, basically a band-aid. (Whereas the hole in my eardrum won’t heal because it’s surrounded by scar tissue.)

“I’m going to put a tiny piece of cigarette paper over the hole.”

“Like, actual rolling paper?”

“Yes.”

Some might find this odd, raise an eyebrow or two. But I’ve been hearing about strange aural procedures all my life. This? This was just another possible cockamamy procedure in the long list of procedures. The difference this time was there was no general anesthesia involved, it only took a few minutes, and it couldn’t cause any more hearing loss. So what if it’s temporary and the moment the paper slips away from the hole, I would lose any hearing I’d gained? Why not hear for a few weeks or months?

Now, this next part is crazy still to me. But I could hear! INSTANTLY. I mean I could actually hear! Like a normal person! I could hear the fan above my head, the hum of medical equipment. I could hear his staff breathing. I could hear the traffic outside. I think I even heard outer space, which is weird since I don’t think sound travels in outer space. But it did for me!

HI SATURN!

What’s more? I was totally and completely freaked out.

I am not sure when I stopped being able to hear like a normal person. Maybe I never could? But, this little piece of cigarette paper put my hearing loss into great perspective. For the first time ever, I realized just how much I couldn’t hear. And if this is what it was like to feel normal, I am very hard of hearing.

Once I hit the Midtown street, I became even more freaked out. I had NO IDEA how loud New York City was! My thought: Why aren’t even more New Yorkers going crazy from this?

I called my mom. “I finally understand cats!”

“You’ll get used to it.” She reassured me.

Thirteen, y’all. Which is, incidentally, my favorite number. The TV volume was at thirteen.

Normally it’s at 25.

Thirteen.

I stood at the kitchen sink, my back to the TV. House Hunters International was on.

“I can hear what they’re saying. The TV is on 13 and I can hear them.” I began repeating what I was hearing to Toby Joe. “I can hear them! And I’m not looking at them! You have no idea how insane this is.”

“How do you normally hear people?” He asked.

“I usually hear a bit and fill in the blanks, like a puzzle. And I do a lot of guessing.”

“My god.” He whispered. “You must be exhausted at the end the day.”

I’ve since lost that temporary hearing boost. And it was great while it lasted. I could hear things I never knew were there. And I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t wept that night.

(Man! I’m wordy! If you’re still reading this: I’m sorry!)

Anyway, I’m finally getting a hearing aid. After thoroughly making fun of the Widex naming convention, I chose the Widex Clear Passion. I am only getting one, because I’m not ready to give up on my right ear. Knowing all it takes is one tiny piece of rolling paper to fix the hearing in my right ear, means there is still hope.

And, yeah. I do hope I’m less exhausted, not that I was aware of how much work I’ve been putting into just getting by. But I reckon I might be able to put that brain power toward more important things—like talking to Saturn.

And I hope I’m able to hear better, and that I don’t totally freak out and dart into oncoming traffic. Because, I learned something recently: THIS CITY IS LOUD!

NYC Half.

Today I found out that I didn’t make it into the NYC half marathon. I realize it’s a lottery and all, but I kind of had my heart set on it somehow. I was admittedly pretty crushed and started to feel that hint of depression I so often experience after the holidays and on into spring. A March run would have been perfect.

What can I say? I was bummed.

So I tweeted about it and a bunch of people wrote back with suggestions, including my brother, who always cheers me up. (Thanks, Ryan!) So I signed up for the DC Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon on March 17th, which is the same weekend I had put aside for the NYC Half. Ryan is going to do the full marathon. We’ll have a great time. And I love DC.

Anyway, sorry I haven’t written much lately! The holiday season hit us hard this year and I was scrambling to fulfill a bunch of lollipop orders. This is my biggest season for lollipop sales.

I will write more in the upcoming year. I have goals: to run a half marathon and write more. Also: BAKING. But that’s a given.

Lastly, and more importantly: Happy New Year, my friends!

HOLY SHIT. Pictures.

This is my neighborhood. I took a walk earlier to see how things were going before Irene hits. (Captions above each picture.)

The new fish shack near the water. Haven’t been yet.

Bagelsmith. They stay open ALL THE TIME. Seriously, it could be the end of days and you could buy a a bagel there.

The Future Perfect with a perfectly funny window treatment.

East River State Park. Mandatory evacuation for this area (about four blocks from us) It was basically a ghost town.

Blackbird Parlour. Boarded up but bumping inside.

Oy Vey indeed. (I have no idea what this bar is called or how it’s still open at all to be honest.)

NYC Muffins. Boarded up but ready for business. As you can see, everyone is in a panic.

Teddy’s Bar and Grill. AKA place where scenes from Boardwalk Empire was shot. (Among other shows/movies.)

Oh, and this is my baby. Arrr!

The Comfort Of Strangers. (I’m Her Ghost.)

We live on the fifth floor of an apartment building that overlooks several houses and backyards. We chose the fifth floor because of the view. And over the years we’ve gotten to know the people who make up that view even though they have no idea who we are. I take a great deal of comfort in this view and the people who live here. It’s like a rerun, an old movie, a longtime friend.

There was the naked couple who ran through the first snowfall of 2009. They moved out two weeks after we moved in and I still kind of miss them.

There was this:

There’s the girl who has so much sex and with several different guys, we have often wondered if she’s a professional. There’s the family of five, the lawyer, the guy without an air-conditioner who leaves his door wide open at night. He has a massive back porch, perched on the roof of four-story walkup, but never uses it. I covet his porch. But I bet he covets my central air.

There’s the gay couple, the couple who fosters dogs, the NYU student with the pet rabbit. There’s the little hispanic girl who rides her tricycle in the afternoon, the one my son loves to watch from our bedroom window.

There’s the polish couple who smoke together in the kitchen, then disappear for weeks on end. There’s the old Brooklyn lady who hangs out her window on hot days wearing a muumu. She watches people who are unaware, as we watch her.

There’s the doctor with the Flickr doormat, the couple next door to him who has a fat cat. They all share a backyard. Sometimes they combine parties. The yard is often illuminated with white lights.

There’s the guy on the third floor above them who BBQs on his fire escape almost every night and during every season. He sips Coke, hangs out his window and flips different cuts of meat.

I love these people. I love watching them come and go and work and play. I love their pets, their kids, their oddities. It’s the living equivalent to a blog—I feel like I know them, they haven’t the slightest clue as to who I am or that I’m even out here at all.

But there is one person within this view I cherish more than everyone else. She brings me the most comfort. And I want to explain why, put it in writing, I don’t want to forget her.

For the first several weeks of Elliot’s life I slept on the sofa. I wanted Toby Joe to get as much sleep as possible since he had to return to work right away. Elliot has always been a pretty good sleeper, but he does get up at night to eat. One of the feedings that remains relatively constant, and has since the day he was born, is the 4:30 AM feeding.

In the beginning, I had a case of the baby blues. And while they weren’t nearly as bad as what I experienced with Em, they were there. And that 4:30 AM hour was a particularly lonely one. It was February. The sun wouldn’t be up for hours, and I was alone with a baby who didn’t yet know I exist. The apartment was dead quiet, even the cats were in other rooms snoozing alongside other warm bodies. So I would nurse Elliot and look out over our view in search of some life, something, anything. There was a streetlight on Bedford Avenue, the occasional taxi cab, a hall light or two gleaming up through a domed skylight, otherwise, everything was dark.

This city really does sleep, contrary to what they say.

I would lie awake, staring outside, watching and waiting. And all my little TV screens, all my friends were sound asleep. All but one.

She wakes up every morning at 4:30 AM. I haven’t any idea what she does for a living and I can’t really see her. I can’t really make out her features, or how old she is. I know it’s a woman and I know she wakes up every weekday morning at 4:30 AM to go somewhere. I know it takes her a long time to get ready.

Besides work, she doesn’t get out much. She’s often home on Friday and Saturday nights all by herself. Her TV flickers and glows in the evening and usually goes dark around 11 PM. Sometimes she falls asleep with it on and it remains on all night. I guess her TV is her company. I get that. I’d have done the same if we had a bigger place.

For the first few months of Elliot’s life, when I was alone at 4:30 AM and feeling a little blue, I would sit with her. I wouldn’t bug her. I couldn’t. And she didn’t know I was there. But I would sit with her. I’d send her messages like: What is your name? Why are you always alone? Are you lonely? Where do you work? Why does it take you so long to get ready? Do you take vacations? Who are you?

What is your name?

Are you lonely?

Elliot is nearing 6 months of age. I’m floored by this. Six months! Time really does fly especially when the punctuation involved is generally the same. And my friend? She’s still out there.

I don’t get to visit her much anymore. But I do still sit down with her from time to time and I do still send her messages. She still takes forever to get ready. And I still feel comforted by her light, her ritual. And, yeah, her.

This woman has no clue who I am, that I know anything about her existence at all. But I really needed her company. My only hope is that she finds some of her own.

Cujo vs. Couch

We ordered a couch 7 weeks ago. At the time we were told it would take 6 to 8 weeks to build and upholster. I was hesitant to buy this particular couch because it would be delivered after the baby was born. You see, one of the main reasons we were buying a new couch was so my mom (dad or brother, whomever) would have a comfortable place to sleep post-baby.

“The couch needs to arrive first and this one will not.” I said in the store, arguing with Toby Joe.

“We can’t choose a couch solely based in its delivery date. That’s just stupid. It’s a dumb reason to pick one couch over another.” He said. “We’ll give them our bed.”

He pointed out that it was the nicer couch. And he reminded me that we’d have it for years to come.

Basically, he told me to suck it up and wait.

Well, it’s been 7 weeks and I just got a call saying the couch would be delivered this Saturday.

So: listen up, Couch. I have a few words for you. It’s on, Couch. Do you hear me?

It’s so on.

40 Weeks! NO BABY. But We Do Have a Crib!

I had my 40-week appointment on Monday. My stubborn cervix hasn’t budged.

“You’re a tight 2 centimeters.”

“That’s a polite way of saying I’m still 1.5 centimeters, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“Great. So, what can I do?:

So she “stripped the membrane” which is really just code for OMFG OUCH! She did this twice because the first time I instinctually backed away from her. You see, I didn’t want to kick her in the head. I really like my doctor and I was about to kick her in the head. So I backed away like a fat slug exposed to salt.

Y’all, that exam hurts. I know it’s not as painful as childbirth, but it hurts. Anyway, she went in for a second time because I asked her to. And I planted my hands at the end of the table near my ankles so I couldn’t move. The exam can, and often does, put a woman into labor. And while I did have contractions that night every hour from 1 AM until about 7:30 AM (among other stuff I won’t mention but other ladies probably know about), I didn’t go into labor. The contractions stopped first thing in the morning.

I’m still very pregnant and nothing is changing. Although, my hips ache more and more every day and my pelvis becomes more and more bruised. This kid is comfy, just like his brother was.

The good news is, my blood pressure is holding steady. That’s what forced me to be induced the first time around, a sudden spike in blood pressure. That’s not been the case this time. The baby is fine. I am fine, relatively speaking. So, I just wait. And I think I’m fine with that. I vowed to NOT be induced this time around and I’d like to stick to that plan. I want to go into labor this time. I want to let my body do its thing to some degree and then I’ll ask for the drugs and the epidural. :]

Culinary Leave

I am officially on leave from culinary school. This was a VERY difficult decision for me. But I realized that while I can still physically go, I am not getting what I should be getting out of it anymore. Couple the exhaustion with the shrinking brain and I felt like I was doing myself (as well as my teammates) a disservice when it comes to retaining any of the information. (Yeah, y’all. A pregnant woman’s brain actually shrinks during the 3rd trimester. And it doesn’t get back to normal for many months postpartum.)

So, I’m on leave for three months.

And my brain is smaller.

Huh? Whut?

The Crib!

We got a bassinet! Finally. It’s kind of a cross between a crib and a bassinet actually. But first I need to state that this post is NOT sponsored. I am not getting paid to write this. I genuinely think this crib is awesome. And I paid for it in lollipop sales.

Now that the caveat is out of the way, check this out. It’s called Alma Urban Crib. It even folds up for storage. It’s perfect for small apartments, and we have a small apartment. Check out how it folds up. Awesome, right?

This crib is the greatest thing ever.  It ran us more than we wanted to pay, but it will definitely fit our lifestyle the best. We have a very small master bedroom and I want to keep Cujo next to me for the first few months. I’m going to try and breastfeed again, so I figured the closer to me the better. Also: I don’t want him to wake up Em. We figured keeping him with us would be best.

Here it is all set up.

I set it up yesterday hoping that maybe the easy workout would send me into labor. No such luck. Not even a contraction.

Here’s how it fits within our room.

We’re really happy with it. We’re hoping our son is too, you know, whenever he decides to join us.

Oh, and if any of my NY friends are reading this and need a crib in about 6 months, let me know. We will gladly gift it to you.

The Mom Dates.

Remember the mom dates I wrote about? I wrote a post about how my therapist suggested I find an in-person support network? Things are going smashingly well there. I have quadrupled my mom friends. I am so stoked about this. I have worked my ass off to put my insecurities aside and just be more open to things and people. And it’s paid off. I’m really looking forward to these new relationships. I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am of myself. I’m really grateful for these new women in my life.

The Weight Gain.

Y’all, I really could use my body back. I won’t lie. It’s getting really hard to get around. And I will never, ever let myself get this heavy ever again. It’s misery. As soon as I am physically able, I’m going for a jog. I’ve been dreaming about running for months now. I miss it so much. I miss being able to sleep on my stomach. And I miss being able to see my vagina.

I guess that’s it for now. If you want up-to-the-minute updates on laboring and whatnot, I highly suggest following me on Twitter. This is where we’ll likely be posting once things get going. Here’s TobyJoe’s Twitter account as well.

I love Twitter.

New York City Bans Smoking in Parks, Beaches.

How awesome is this?

“This summer, New Yorkers who go to our parks and beaches for some fresh air and fun will be able to breathe even cleaner air and sit on a beach not littered with cigarette butts,” —Bloomberg

Opponents believe the government is meddling too much. I am rather pleased with the fact that our beaches will no longer look like giant ashtrays and that one day I might visit a park and not have to worry about my kid (or your dog!) eating a discarded cigarette butt.

Personally, I think this makes more sense than banning it in bars and restaurants because this is a public space. But I’m OK with the restaurant ban as well.

Remember: this comes from a recovering smoker. I smoked for over a decade. I smoked a lot.

Yeah, this law pleases me a great deal.