Photos From The Bronx Zoo

We went to the Bronx Zoo on Saturday. I can’t put into words how awesome of a day we had. It was probably one of the best days of my life. 

Here are a few pictures from our visit.

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We rode the insect merry-go-round. Em was fine at first, but it started to freak him out toward the end. We had to hold him for the last couple of rotations. And it made Toby Joe sick, which is hilarious. 

We took him to the bird pond. He loves birds, especially ducks. He quacked at them. And I find it particularly amusing that he was most impressed with an animal that crashed the place.

Here he is looking at the ducks and diving birds.

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We stopped by to say hello to the giraffes and, I’m sorry, but giraffes are the weirdest looking creatures ever. Plus, how can something survive by only sleeping 20 minutes per night? Deep sleep or not? They’d make excellent new parents! Anyway, we stood there in awe of them.

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Now that it’s spring, we’re going to make this a regular weekly thing. The New York Aquarium is on our list of places to visit, as well as the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park, and The Brooklyn Botanical Garden. I’m really looking forward to watching Em’s eyes light up on a regular basis. It’s like being a kid all over again.

Astra Taylor: Examined Life

We’re dealing with an extremely sick baby (again). I haven’t had time to shower let alone write anything (but had every intention on doing so!) Anyway, I stole a minute and wanted to pass along a very special link. Our friend, Astra, was in the New York Times this weekend! Read all about it here. And then you should totally go see her movie. It’s wonderful, thought-provoking and inspiring.

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.

Craziest Week Ever

This week is likely to turn into the most insane week ever. We’re scheduled to move in seven days. (I have been working on a post for a while regarding the move, but can’t seem to find the time to finish it. In a nutshell, we’re staying in Brooklyn but moving to a less contaminated, easier to use 2 bedroom, two bathroom apartment. It’s a long, long story. I will share it soon.) Toby’s birthday is Thursday and I have not one, but TWO freelance projects to finish up this week. Oh, I’m also a full-time mom, one who has yet to find a local babysitter.

I may have gotten myself in over my head. Cross your fingers for me, Internet.

The good news is we’re moving out of the highly toxic area of Greenpoint and into the wallet-raping Williamsburg area. But hey, we’ll have a view, a washing machine AND a dishwasher. (The article above is from the NYT and it’s a little disturbing.)

If I make it through this week in one piece and without the use sedatives, I will reward myself with another piece of chocolate covered carrot cake from Fabiane’s, which may sound truly disgusting, but is actually quite delectable. I have been craving it every day since we met.

Voting As A Primary Caregiver.

Here in New York we weren’t allowed to hit the polls early. I’m anticipating long lines tomorrow. I’m wondering how other stay-at-home-moms are doing it (or have done it). Do you have a story to tell? Ideas? Suggestions? I have to bring Em with me. And while I’m hoping he behaves himself as long as we’re in line, I can’t promise anything.

Perhaps Election Day should become a national holiday, so that whomever goes to work for a living can stay home while the primary caregiver gets out to vote. While employers face charges if they don’t give their employees time off to vote, babies don’t have to follow the law.

If they can’t give the nation the day off, maybe they should have a “Fast Track” option for those of us with toddlers who really don’t enjoy being confined to a stroller for very long. Not that I’m looking for special treatment or anything. ;]

Edited to add: Early voting could go nationwide. Maybe in four years, this won’t be an issue for SAHMs and Dads after all.

I Hate New York.

I had a professor in college whose job it seemed was to make every one of his students as stressed out and angry as possible. The night I was accepted into the Graphic Design program I got a phone call from one of the seniors. He said, “Congratulations! You will cry. You know that, right? He makes grown men cry.”

Our professor worked hard at making our lives absolutely miserable. We lost sleep. We worked through days and nights. We had nose bleeds from darkroom chemicals, spray adhesive, fixative. It was like boot camp only without all the potential death and war. (Ok, maybe a little war.)

Naturally, we hated him. Everyone bitched and moaned about how difficult he was and how he was going to kill us all. We collectively hated him. And we collectively talked about it.

And then one day, right before I graduated, I realized something.

There were 23 in my graduating class. We spent countless hours together, sometimes not bathing for days at a time. Sometimes we went 48-hours without brushing our teeth or washing our underarms. We all did this in a studio together, sometimes working over top of one another in the darkroom or the computer lab. Yet, we rarely fought.

Under most circumstances, 23 people living that closely and for that long would have fought. But we spent almost all of commiserating about how much we hated our professor (who was a very smart man and an even better teacher). Did he do it on purpose? Was he merely acting as the tyrannical drill sergeant? Was he getting the best work out of his students by having us direct all of our stress at him instead of at one another?

The idea blew my mind because (even if he didn’t mean to do it) it worked.

I complain a lot about living in New York. I complain on here, to friends and to family. My friends and family (I think) know that I’m just blowing off steam most of the time. But there are some who probably just think I’m a resentful, hateful, cranky bitch.

And I am all those things sometimes, but not most of the time. I am only just now realizing that I may not have painted a very accurate portrait of myself. And judging by the email I receive and some of the comments I get, I know that many people have it very wrong.

So. Here goes nothing.

I’ve given some people the impression that I don’t have any friends who are mothers. That’s untrue. I have actually met several local mothers whom I really like. We try and hang out regularly although nap schedules, partners’ schedules, and overall exhaustion tends to get in our way. But whenever we do find time, we hit the park and gab as our little ones run around for an hour or two. I really enjoy their company and if our living conditions were slightly easier, I think we’d get to spend even more time together. I’m going to miss them so much whenever we leave here, so very much.

I don’t write about them for a number of reasons. The main reason is that I try and respect their privacy. I also don’t have very much time anymore to write coherent essays (or essays at all).

I realize how annoying it can be—trying to fill in the blanks. I get annoyed that people even try. There are far too many blanks to fill in! On here, lately, I paint the smallest portion of a picture representing my life. That may change soon and I hope that it does, but for now, I just don’t have the time. For what it’s worth, I don’t think I’m a bad mother. I don’t think everything is falling apart around me. I am not suffering from self-hatred most of the time. I just tend to bitch a lot on here I guess.

I know that one thing is for certain, I simply need to illustrate somehow that I have a lot of joy in my life. Most urgent, however, since we’ll be leaving New York soon, I must, for the sake of history, illustrate just how much I’m going to miss this place. (I am wiping a tear from my eye as I write this.)

It occurred to me recently that Greenpoint, Brooklyn is the one place that I have lived the longest. (When you add in the time I spent living here before I met Tobyjoe). I love this place. After all, I think (hope?) that it’s pretty safe to say that this is the only place I’ll ever live where I’ll be able to watch a hobo take a dump in my backyard and then wipe his ass.

What’s not to love about that? I mean, as sick as it may be, it’s temporary and slightly hilarious, so I might as well file it under the “Things I Tolerated And Even Laughed About When I Was Younger” category. Also in this category is my difficult and absurd parking fiascos, the half naked man I watched snort heroin at 1 PM at the local public track, and the crack bag I intercepted from my son on the children’s playground. I tolerate the smell of the human waste facility not too far from here and the fact that it wafts up from our sewers at least twice a week making morning walks downright third world. I deal with the loud construction taking place out back now that the hobos are gone. (Is it wrong of me to miss them?) I tolerate the toxic waste dump in our backyard as well as the water bugs (American Cockroaches, you ain’t foolin’ no one, New York) the size of small cats. I even tolerated the crack head that ripped my antenna off of my car so he could smoke up. I even tolerate the insanely high rents and even higher mortgages.

I have tolerated all of this and I continue to do so. And I do think it’ll end up being hilarious one day (assuming that none of us get leukemia from the benzine leak in our backyard).

You simply must tolerate the good, the worse, and the vile if you wish to live in New York. (Switch the city, however, and people might call you insane for putting up with such nonsense.)

But this is New York! New York gets away with being the drunk aunt at the wedding party, the rich 90-year-old with the 24-year-old wife, the strange 7-year-old boy who touches himself too much in public, the gassy grandfather at the dinner table. You shrug it off as expected, maybe joke about it to a few people and get on with your day.

I’m going to miss it. I am going to miss all the weirdness and grime. I am going to miss the fodder for stories to tell people whenever I see them. I am going to miss the defecating hobos, the laughing hipsters with stupid haircuts, the Polish kids who collect sticks.

New York is tolerated because it’s New York and it has a stigma attached to it, whether you agree with it or not. And New Yorkers get to bitch about New York and blame everything bad going on in their lives on the city, like it’s a living thing (or a graphic design professor). At the end of the day New Yorkers all have one thing in common: we get to collectively bitch about how much we hate the city we love.

Photographs are from this series.

Edited to add: I have gotten a lot of email asking where we’re moving and when. We don’t know yet and we don’t know yet. But we know we have to leave here. I’m sorry I have been so vague. It’s not intentional. I am vague because I don’t know the answers yet myself.

Empty Cages Collective

It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote about Empty Cages Collective. Since then quite a bit has changed. Thanks to many of the people who graciously visit this Web site, ECC received a great number of donations. Lisa has had her arms full with kittens, cats and adoption events, but she expressed to me several times how grateful they are.

Thank you so much.

They also got some press! I’m hoping that’s just the beginning. The more people in New York City who hear about what they’re trying to do, the better life will be for all of us, fuzzy or human.

Last but not least, ECC held an adoption event at The Beehive recently and 7 cats were adopted! Seven. That’s outstanding! They still have a lot more and there are many other colonies out there breeding and breeding, but that’s pretty remarkable for a one-day event.

Anyway, ECC is holding another adoption event this Saturday at Muddy Paws here in Greenpoint. Stop by if you are in the area. We’ll be there as well!

Francisco DeFlaviis – The Lone Juror.

Joseph Petcka, the man arrested for beating a 7-pound cat to death, had his day in court recently. The jury came back hung: 11 to 1. After five days of deliberations eleven people were in favor of convicting Petcka of aggravated animal cruelty. A lone juror by the name of Francisco DeFlaviis did not believe that Joseph Petcka killed the cat on purpose.

Joseph Petcka weighed 205 pounds at the time. He and his girlfriend had just had a fight. The cat, Norman, weighed 7 pounds. Norman was declawed.

Petcka said he kicked the cat to death in self defense.

I could go on about how I feel regarding animal cruelty in this country. I could go on about how unbelievably angry his actions and this mistrial makes me. But I won’t. Instead of stating the obvious, instead of ranting without resolve, I’m hoping that something positive might come out of this.

Please don’t forget to donate to the ASPCA. Help them put an end to animal cruelty. Help them spread the word that beating an animal to death will not be tolerated in this country.

CNN Outside Lehman Brothers Headquarters.

Forgive me for the horrible quality of this video. I don’t have the fancy equipment needed to do this. Plus, our TV died last week, so we’re using the 70-dollar tube we purchased from a Radio Shack in San Francisco. But it’s clear enough that I think you’ll get the point.

The United States woke up with a wicked financial hangover today. But I’m happy to see that at least these two guys are enjoying themselves. The nipple slurping is particularly unsettling.