Our View For 2009

Taken last night as the sun was setting on 2008.

Happy New Year, my friends! I am grateful that you visit, read, comment, chat, suggest, smooch on Murray—just grateful.

Thanks again for everything.

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.

Happiness and Health.

I lied about surprises. I planned a party for TobyJoe. It was held at a local tapas restaurant here in Brooklyn. I made a cake and at around 6:30, Emory and I packed everything into the car and headed out for an evening with friends. It was 100% awesome. It would have been 150% awesome had TobyJoe not shown up before everyone else. Guests were to arrive at 7 PM. TobyJoe arrived at 7:01. There were five of us there, five out of the 17 guests who would show up over the next couple of minutes. But none of that mattered because our friends are outstanding. I could not be more pleased with the people in my life. I am so unbelievably lucky. I feel so plump today, so grateful.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take any pictures because the spot on my body that once held a camera was reserved for our four month old baby boy. Emory was so good. He just sat there and smiled and then he fell asleep in my arms. I could not put him in the stroller without him waking up and wildly kicking his feet until I picked him up again. Emory is a very social baby. He has to be facing out when in the Bjorn. He doesn’t like to lie back in the stroller. A wrap (such as the Moby wrap) will not do. He has to be able to see everyone. (Incidentally, we have one unused Moby wrap if anyone wants it.)

He quickly became the life of the party even though it was meant to be for his father. Our beloved friend, Jen, took the only picture there is featuring all three of us.

I needed last night. I really did. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for me. And we discovered about two hours ago, it’s about to get even crazier. We might be out of a place to live because our landlord has decided to pull some crap that I still can’t get my head around. I’m actually unable to even write about it just yet. It’s too annoying, too heartless. It has us scrambling, looking at houses in upstate NY and NJ. I can’t think of a better way to spend our holiday. Bastards.

My health has been wacky as well. I visited my primary care doctor on Monday to discuss a few things. I have had some pretty serious joint pain. It began when I was 39 weeks pregnant. It’s gotten worse over the last couple of months. I have trouble lifting Emory, especially now that he’s getting bigger. It’s worse when I’m stationary, like when I first get up. My hands ache. My feet have trouble holding me up. I hobble to his bedroom and then I struggle to lift him. And my hips feel like they’re grinding one another at the bone. It’s not pleasant. And I’m worried that I am inheriting my mother (and grandmother’s) rheumatoid arthritis. The doctor drew blood. He’s checking for everything from Lyme Disease to thyroid problems, from rheumatoid all the way to Hepatitis A through Z. I am crossing my fingers I don’t have arthritis already.

My hair is starting to fall out. I heard that this would happen if I continued supplying breast milk. It’s happening. At the rate it’s falling out, I’m going to be bald by my 34th birthday in January.

The MOHs procedure is done and, yes, I am cancer free. But the stitches have caused me a great deal of frustration. It seems the internal stitches, the ones meant to dissolve on their own, did not. I spent almost a week watching a tiny white thread poke out of my skin. I would pull on it, and it wouldn’t give. I’d then cut it with scissors. Now, most people, most normal people, would have gone back to the doctor. Not me! I am a moron. I’m waiting until my face explodes. Contrary to how it appears in the photo I posted on Friday, my MOHs surgery has not healed as well as it should have. It hasn’t healed entirely at all.

I sound like I’m whining. I assure you, I am relatively happy these days. I could not have asked for a better baby.

I have the most amazing friends. I wish them days, years, decades full of happiness. My family is truly wonderful. And my husband is fantastic even if he does ruin surprise parties by not playing by the rules.

I’m happy. Now, if only we could find a safe place to live near the city, equipped with a pottery studio, a yoga studio, and a Quaker school. Help me get there, sweet life. Willya?

NowBlowPoMe: The Forgotten City?

I understand why people move to New York. I moved here at age 27 because I always loved it. I decided to move to New York when I was a kid and my father took us to our first ever Yankee game. He drove us right through Harlem so he could teach us a lesson and show us just how good we had it. “Not everyone lives as comfortably as you do, kids.” In reality I think he was lost. I remember riding the subway convinced that I looked more like a New Yorker if I didn’t hold onto the bars. Only tourists need to hold onto the subway bars. I actually believed that. I believed that after living in New York for a while, you figured out how to ride the subways without having to hold on.

New York was where I wanted to live. Always.

I lived in Washington, DC before. Twice, even. I moved from State College to Washington, DC. Then, I moved back to State College, back to DC, to New York City, back to DC, to San Francisco and the back to New York. Writing that down sounds perfectly insane. But I can assure you that each move made sense. For example, the first time I moved to DC was for a job that wasn’t what I signed up for. I worked there for a little over a month before calling a quits. My apartment building was depressing and bug-ridden, and so I headed back to State College with my tail between my legs. (Back then, my life kind of looked like that Ben Fold’s Five song “Steven’s Last Night in Town.”)

But We thought he was gone
And now he's come back again
last week it was funny
now the jokes wearing thin
cuz everyone knows now
that every night now
will be Steven's last night in town

DC stuck the second time because my boyfriend at the time and I did it correctly; we lived in an apartment building in the city and one that wasn’t a housing project for those on house arrest.

Toby and I left New York because we were pretty messed up over what we saw on September 11th. I know that DC isn’t exactly off the radar where terrorist attacks are concerned, but it was a change of scenery for us and were therefore able to heal quicker.

Anyway, we’ve been here for three years and we’re at the point (again) where we want to leave (again). This time we’re going about it the right way, i.e.. slowly. And we’re talking about moving to Boston or New Jersey. We’ve even discussed moving to Providence with TobyJoe commuting to Boston every day. (Is that an insane idea?)

Truth be told, we’re looking for that perfect place to live. A place where we can raise Emory without running into too much trouble, whether it be something simple like subjecting him to incessant horrific language, or something a lot more serious like high pollution, or a murder rate every New Yorker tries to ignore. We want somewhere fairly safe. But we also want him to have the ability to grow up around art and culture. (I come from an art background. I really do put a lot of stock in the arts.) We want a backyard filled with fireflies not drunk and dying polish men. We want a garden fed with uncontaminated ground water as well as public transportation.

We’re readying ourself to move again. And we’re looking for the “Forgotten City”. The city on the East coast that isn’t riddled with murder or pollution. The city on the East coast with excellent public schools and affordable housing. We want to settle down and raise our son safely. Why does that seem so hard to do right now?

Part of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), where one writes every day for the month of November, which is easier said than done.

Unreal Estate: A Walk Through Greenpoint

To all those people who own houses: How did you do it? How were you able to buy your first one? (If you wish to remain anonymous, I am OK with that. Use a fake name if you leave a comment.)

The house you see above is for sale in our neighborhood. It was listed at 700 thousand dollars. The advertisement read: “Needs to be gutted and entirely redone.” Don’t worry, even if I had the money I wouldn’t buy this house. But every time I see something like this, I can’t help be become more and more discouraged about ever being able to afford a place of our own. Here’s our dilemma: If Tobyjoe wants to keep his job (which he really likes) it means we have to live in or near New York City. We can’t afford to live in Brooklyn. In order to do so I would have to get a job making at least 65,000 dollars a year and we’d have to pay someone to raise our kid. (Call me old fashioned, but I don’t feel right about working 60+ hour weeks just so I can pay someone to raise my son.) We certainly can’t afford Manhattan. Upstate New York is an option but we’d have to go pretty far out to afford anything. And if we do that we run the risk of raising a child who never sees his father because he’s commuting all the time. Jersey is an option we’re looking into, but houses are still quite pricey and taxes are high.

I took a walk today to get some decaf coffee from my new favorite bistro, which is located on Driggs right before Driggs crosses Manhattan Avenue. I took my camera with me to try and capture the number of massive developments going up in a very small area.

(Descriptions are above each picture.)

A sliver from a map of Greenpoint. The red stars represent buildings that are already occupied or buildings currently being erected. The yellowish stars are those to come. (Meaning, they are currently applying for permits, being bulldozed, etc.)

See number 1 on the map above. The building shown below is the most perplexing of all. The top floors not only have a view of BQE traffic but its inhabitants get to inhale the toxic fumes from it as well. The bottom floors get to see underneath the BQE where the car service guys hang out 24/7, the crackheads get their fix on, and the trash piles up like filthy tumbleweeds.

Pricing: Here is the building. Cheapest unit is listed for $249.000, most expensive is $389.000.

See number 2 on the map above. OK, so the building below is one of the first and it’s pretty tame considering. We were kind of intrigued by this one at one point because the roof deck looks amazing. Plus, I think at the time we moved in it was still affordable.

See numbers 3 and 4 on the map above. I have a huge crush on the one on the right. (Yes, you may not be able to see it here, but these are two separate buildings.) Anyway, I dreamed of having a place there because it overlooks the park. There isn’t a chance in hell that the city will give up that view to another developer, which also explains why the prices in this building were so high. (I used “were” here because they sold out in seconds so I’ve been told.)

Pricing: 297 Driggs Avenue: The building features one-bedroom units starting at $569,000 and two-bedrooms with private outdoor space going for up to $1.1 million. Twelve of the 14 apartments will have balconies overlooking McCarren Park.

See number 5 on the map above. They put up permits recently and the businesses that were once there have moved out. So now the folks who purchased a place in either of the two buildings I showed previously will lose their back views.

See number 6 on the map above. This building is pretty modest. They also have killer roof decks. They sit directly across from the park. I envy a lot of these people for that very reason.

See number 7 on the map above. Going up on Eckford and Manhattan Avenue. Found this blurb about pricing:

Pricing: “The 32-unit luxury building by Tahoe Development contains 28 two-bedroom rentals going for $2,500 a month, and four duplex penthouse condos asking $1.2 million each. Occupancy is scheduled for fall 2006, the Post reported.” (The Real Deal.)

See number 8 on the map above. Lots of windows on these guys. They kind of look like beach condos to me. Not sure why.

Pricing: “49-61 Engert Avenue: Traditional two-bedroom units from $649,000, two-bedroom garden duplexes from $725,000 and three-bedroom penthouse units starting at $955,000. Slated for occupancy in December, the building has already sold 19 of its 24 units.”

See number 9 on the map above. To be honest, I didn’t’ even know these were being built. There are so many of them, I must have gotten them confused with another.

See number 10 on the map above. Again, didn’t know about these and they are a few blocks from where I live.

See numbers 11 and 12 on the map above. I didn’t walk all the way over to these two. They are monsters overlooking McCarren Park. They are a bloody fortune so I’ve been told. Last Thursday, someone had rented a giant spotlight to lure the eye of the masses – the rich masses of course.

See number 13 on the map above. This is a 13-story condo being erected in our back yard. Our evening sunsets are a thing of the past. I don’t know who would want to buy a place that costs so much and has a view of the BQE on ramp. No idea how much these will run. The space is entirely too new.

See number 14 on the map above. Not a great shot because (as you can see) I was in the middle of the one of the deadliest streets in Brooklyn. But these monsters are going up on the other side of the BQE.

If anyone out there knows the exact prices of the condos shown above, please do share them. I will try and find the information out on my own, but I get a little overwhelmed with this sort of thing. I am not even sure where or how to begin looking for that type of information. (I found some, not all, but some.)

The Cost of Living. (Bumped to the Top.)

We had a conversation on the back deck overlooking a great big lake surrounded by southern firs and humidity. The sun, as if shy from what it had done the night before, was just starting to show itself again. It was Thursday, the 5th day of our vacation. I was up before 7 AM, a feat I find impossible during the workweek. I had woken to the sound of crickets and frogs just like I had every other morning. But on Thursday it was different; it had rained the night before so their chorus was much more robust, the soundtrack to happiness.

“So, where do you want to move?” He broke our silence.

“That’s funny, I was just thinking about going back to New York.”

“Yeah?” He sipped his coffee.

“Pretty soon, the sound we hear now will be replaced by horns, sirens, and inaudible subway announcements. I love New York City but…” I stopped talking.

“I know.”

“The longer you’re away from it, the more you begin to realize that it’s kind of bullshit.”


The sun was just about ready. And our vacation neared its end. My skin still smelled like chlorine from the swim we had the night before. Probably the sheets did as well. A boat horn sounded in the distance.