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.

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?”


“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.

My Costanza Moment

A few months ago, I volunteered to be “Class Parent” at Em’s school. I figured, I’m not busy enough making candy, going to culinary school, and being a pregnant mother. I needed to add something to my schedule. But what?


So, I volunteered for the job. And for the most part things have been going just fine. (Plus, I get to pawn off my homework onto the kids and make it seem like I’m the BEST CLASS PARENT EVER! Because, what kid doesn’t like cake, cookies and croissants?)

Then the holidays rolled around, and I got the bright idea of arranging a group gift for all three of Em’s teachers. We (Toby and I) figured 20 bucks from each family meant each teacher would get 100 bucks. We thought 20 was a decent amount—not too much, not too little. I sent out an email saying, “Let’s do this! I’ll buy three cards and have an envelop waiting in Em’s cubby at school. Sign and drop off cash. Interested?”

What teacher doesn’t like cash?

The first response I received was positive. Something along the lines of: “YES!! Sounds great. That’s one less thing I have to deal with!”


Then the second one came in. It read: “This is very nice of you! But, listen, [insert daughter’s name] has been going to this school for 3 years, and while group gifts are nice and all, this year I’m opting out. One teacher likes my daughter’s lunchbox, so we’re going to give her that. The other teachers are getting the equivalent in cash. But thanks for the offer! We’re out.”

So yeah. The second response? Not so good.

“Is it too little?” I asked Toby. “Maybe it’s too little. Maybe I should have suggested 30? Or 50! What if they all think this is stupid?”

He told me to stop being an idiot and wait to hear from the others. He then said something like, “There’s always gonna be one person who fucks shit up.” And I calmed down a bit.

By the following day, every other family had responded and everyone thought it was a fine idea. I decided that we would cover that family’s 20 bucks. It’s worth it, after all. We love Em’s teachers.

So yesterday, I gathered everything together, got some C notes and began to finish off the card. That’s when I had a Constanza moment.

Wait! The teachers won’t necessarily know that there was one family that opted out of the group gift. They won’t know I covered her non-conforming ass. OMG, I need to let them know this!

“From everyone but So-and-So’s mom. Because So-and-So’s mom is kind of bitchy and had to go and fuck shit up.”

How’s that for holiday spirit?