The other day, on a walk, the boy looked up at me and asked, “Hey, Mom, what’s ‘misery’?”
“Well,” I said, “It’s when you’re very, very sad about something. Why do you ask?”
“’Cause it’s in that song, you know,” and here he began to sing, “‘Put me out, put me out, put me out of misery.’”
And then today, while having breakfast, another one.
“Hey, Mom, what’s an owner?”
“Well, an owner is when you have something that belongs to you, you are it’s owner. Like you are the owner of your shirt because it’s yours. Why do you ask?” I’ve learned to ask that as a followup question for basically everything.
“‘Cause it’s in that song.”
“What song?” I asked.
And here he broke into song again, “Jojo was a man, who thought he was an owner.” After I stopped laughing, I gently corrected his lyrics.
All I know is I can never listen to “Blinded by the Light” with him in the car again.
The boy and I, in the car to the store. We pass by a wooded bike trail.
“Hey,” I say, “we should come here for a bike ride! Would that be fun or what?!”
“What what?” he asks.
“What are you talking about?”
“What? You said ‘what.’ What is the what?”
“What do you mean? I don’t understand!” I’m getting a bit frustrated. “What what are you talking about?”
Exasperated, he spits out, “You said, “fun or what.” What is that what?”
“Ohhhhhh,” I say, finally understanding. Smiling, I reply, “It’s an expression, kid. It just means that it would be really fun.”
“Oh, but why do you say ‘or what?’ ”
“I don’t know. You just do.” I’m also a bit tired of relentless questions all morning long.
“Okay. Well, can you say it again?” he asks.
“Sure. Let’s go biking! Would that be fun or what?”
“What,” he deadpans.
We woke up the following morning. At 10 am. I haven’t woken up at 10 am in God only knows how long. Somehow another hour passed before we actually decided to do anything, and for some unknown reason I agreed to go for a run in Prospect Park. 3 miles? Sure, why not. I made it for a mile and a half before I started walking, and considering when I’d gone to bed, I think that qualifies as heroic.
After that we went out to “brunch.” By now it was 1:30 in the afternoon. I had done exactly one thing by 1:30. It was a bit surreal. I guess this is how single people spend their mornings. I mentioned this to my sister, who narrowed her eyes and said something along the lines of, “Yes. This is why I’m exhausted by 11 am whenever I come to visit you.”
The rest of the afternoon was a pleasant stroll through the Village, some shopping, and then a mad dash through another short lived rainstorm to go to a movie.
Afterwards we met up with my cousin Meghana and her boyfriend Sumeet, at another chic speakeasy with exceptionally delicious drinks–bay leaf martini, ginger lime mules, and some fancy version of a dark and stormy.
Walked out on to the street for some late night pizza (that claimed, like every pizza place in New York, that theirs was the Best Pizza in New York City) and then back home to Brooklyn.
You will note I haven’t mentioned the boy at anytime since he left with his grandparents. This is because I didn’t speak to him at all during this time. Partly because my phone was out of juice and couldn’t be charged (for uninteresting reasons), though I was clearly reachable through my sister’s phone. My son, who has never spent the night away from his parents in another home, was entirely uninterested in speaking to either myself or his father. I had a twinge of sadness but was also happy that the little guy was so comfortable there and is independent enough to not need us all the time. This is how it starts, I suppose. One day they can’t even poop on their own and then the next thing you know you get a call from Botswana telling you that they’re moving there permanently.
The boy was having a blast with his cousins, staying up late, fishing, having water balloon fights and far too busy to be bothered with us.
The next day he came back, somewhat reluctantly, for a cab ride to the airport and a thankfully uneventful flight home. On a side note, I have decided that a plane is the perfect place to watch Jennifer Lopez movies. They’re light, fluffy, mildly entertaining, and it doesn’t matter much if a bit of the movie is cut out by announcements. You know what’s NOT a good choice to watch on a plane? “Air Force One.” Even scanning through it to get to “Monster in Law” gave me palpitations.
Some of the little things I want to remember from this trip–how the boy brought a few handfuls of oak seeds and tucked them into his pocket. Whenever he found a little patch of dirt in Manhattan he would surreptitiously pull one out and throw it in. Riding the subway back after a long day and singing “Let It Be” together to pass the time. Those delicious drinks at Pegu Club.
Oh! I almost forgot to mention the knock knock jokes. The boy kept trying to tell us these jokes that were awful. By the end of the trip, the exchanges went something like this. “Hey Mom,” he would start. “Can I tell you a knock knock joke?” “Honey,” I’d reply, “No. You can’t tell knock knock jokes.” Now this may sound harsh to you out there reading this, but you’ll see–I’m right. He’d pester and pester, insisting that this time he’d get it right and I’d eventually give in.
“Ok. Knock knock,” he’d begin.
“Who’s there?” I’d ask, warily.
“Why was the pancake sad?”
“Why was the pancake sad who?”
“Because of the waffle!!” He’d say triumphantly.
“Honey, that’s not a knock knock joke. That doesn’t even make any sense!”
“Really? Can I tell you another one?”
Over and over and over again.
And last but not least, these incredibly creepy ads that they have all around New York on the sides of bus stops. Far away, the boy has his eyes closed, and when you get closer his eyes open and he has an orange in his mouth, to advertise that a certain prepackaged high-sodium artificial food product sold to feed children now contains fruit. Wahoo. At one point, though, the boy would only have one eye open and it was incredibly weird. You’d see everyone walk by recoil slightly, and this is what I must now share with you.
The next day we took the train back to Grand Central. We got into the big atrium, looked at the constellations on the ceiling. I expected the boy to be wowed by it all. He looked around at the place, looked up at me and said, “Mommy, this place is kinda small.” I guess you can’t impress them all. I also begged for just one reasonable picture, but was denied.
Then to FAO Schwarz, which looked a lot smaller to ME than I remembered it. The boy had no trouble tracking down a Lego Star Wars book and a little kitty for the girl.
Then we met up with my in-laws and after a fun lunch with the cousins and grandparents, they all whisked him away to their house for the weekend.
I stood on the corner of 5th avenue and 50th street and watched his green dinosaur raincoat disappear into the crowd. He didn’t even turn around. And I started to miss him.
I think when we think about having children, we all have something that we can’t wait to share with them. For Eric this has been taking the boy to baseball games and listening to music. For some maybe it is cooking with them or riding bikes. For me, I always dreamed of the day I could travel with my kids, take them to new places and introduce them to the rest of the world. My parents made it a priority to have my sister and I travel to India as frequently as possible when we were children, and I am incredibly grateful for it now. It made me realize that the rest of the world does not live the way we do, and it made me a much more flexible person when it comes to travelling. While New York is still clearly the Western world (at least the part that we visited) it’s a decent first real travel trip.
Back on that Midtown corner, I realized that this was the first time in years that I’ve been alone in a different city. It felt great, so freeing. I stopped missing the boy.
I headed into the subway to find the Habu yarn shop. Habu is a Japanese yarn company with only 2 retail stores–one in Tokyo and the other in New York City, and I just had to check it out. They make some beautiful, unique yarns–silk wrapped stainless steel, bamboo wrapped copper, and fine merino. It’s on the eighth floor of a nondescript building. You have to know it’s there to find it, which adds to its allure. I walked into a small room filled with beautiful colors, laid out rather precisely.
There was no one in the front but in the back room I could hear what sounded like a sewing machine rattling away (I’d later learn this was a yarn winding machine) and women chattering in Japanese. I looked around for a bit and then announced myself. A woman popped her head in front, told me to look around and ring the bell when I was ready, and then popped back into the back room. Unbelievable. I could have taken anything I wanted, really.
I finally settled on yarn that looks like paper but is made of linen, a fine cotton and a pretty thick and thin silk. I tried not to buy anything in orange, but couldn’t resist.
Then I headed a few blocks over to meet a friend that I studied abroad with many many years ago and whom I hadn’t seen in well over ten years, a fact that we figured out by dating her tattoos. It was so, so fun to hang out, catch up, and find that she is the same heartfelt, caring and sweet person that I knew back then, just all grown up.
After that, my sister met up with us and after saying goodbye to my friend, we headed out for a night of bar hopping at chic speakeasy lounges, which Sapana tells me is the “new hot thing.”
Pouring into bed at 3 am, I slept happily, knowing that I had nothing to do in the morning except take care of myself.
After a few days of trying to figure out exactly where we should meet up with Rebecca and her family, we finally settled on meeting at the New York Hall of Science out in Queens. I figured, why not? Maybe I should try to hit all the boroughs during this trip.
An hour later, there we were. I should know this by now, but I always forget how long it takes to get around New York. I mean, it looks so small! And in Denver, no trip takes an hour unless you’re going somewhere, like to the mountains. It certainly doesn’t take an hour to go 12.5 miles on a normal day, unless you’re a true Denver person and insist on running, and then complain about your slow 4.8 minute mile pace because you really should have been able to get it down to 4.75.
The Hall of Science is pretty cool-the big draw is the huge outdoor science playground. Technically, there are laminated cards explaining the science behind all things in the playground. In reality it’s packed with children run amok. The boy took to Rebecca’s kids as if they were long lost friends and they scampered about. In the back of the playground area is a small area with trees–they loved getting lost among them and exploring the forest.
We then piled into the car and headed up north to Scarsdale. Rebecca’s house is beautiful and it was so incredibly quiet. It was like a vacation from the city, and was nice for the boy to be able to run around to his heart’s content. It was also so wonderful to see Rebecca. There’s something about old friends that is comforting and easy. I wonder sometimes if it’s even possible to make the same types of friends after a certain time–I will never spend as much time with any people I know now as I did with people from college and medical school. Your life becomes focused on your family (to borrow a phrase) and that is certainly where my energy goes. Back then you have hours of time that you spend with other people–those hours now largely go to my own family, which I love, but sometimes lament how hard it can be to make friends. It just seems to take so much longer than it did back then.
Before I left, we got one last picture together, and asked the boys to get in the frame with us. They technically obeyed, though not quite how I was picturing.
And then, back to New York!
Today was a very, very full day.
The boy is doing great through all of this, though I’m realizing that he has no sense of crowds or how to navigate in a dense urban environment. In Denver, where it doesn’t much matter where he gads about as long as he’s going in our general direction, he has a lot of freedom in public spaces. He doesn’t quite understand exactly why he can’t hop about like a rabbit on Adderall at the subway station and why I nearly pull his arm out of his socket when he does so. He also has NO conception of personal space. I think he’s so used to sidling up to people that want him to be next to them that he doesn’t quite get that most of the world does not want a small child underfoot. That said, I find that New Yorkers are not particularly accomodating of children who are in their way.
Today, we had to take a little detour as a result of my forgetting our Lion King tickets. FedEx promptly delivered them to Sapana’s office this morning so we took a little side trip to the Flatiron district to retrieve them.
That done we went to the Natural History museum where they have a very, very cool exhibit all about sauropods. While it’s not large, it is one of the most intriguing dinosaur exhibits I’ve ever seen because it just makes the creatures come alive. There’s a lot of focus not just on the skeletons but on the lungs, heart, stomach, muscles and growth of the animals. Did you know that sauropods had storage sacs in their lungs?! When they breathed in air it would go into the lungs and the storage sacs. Then when they exhaled, the storage sacs would exhale that frest air into their lungs. How efficient! Otherwise all that air has to go up and down that long neck too much. And their teeth! Not as grindy as you would think–much sharper for stripping plants of their leaves instead of chewing them up. I could go on and on. I love dinosaurs.
We then went to the Ocean Life section to see the big blue whale.The little speck in front of the TV screen at the far end is the boy.
After that was a cab ride to the Theatre district/Times Square. The most exciting part of this was that the boy got to ride in a car without any sort of car seat. He was giddy.
Now, I’m not a big musical person, but this was delightful. The opening number in particular is so captivating! I must confess, I always cry when I see the “Circle of Life” scenes in the movie, and the musical was no different. Tears, people, tears streaming down my face. The boy was transfixed by the trampling scene in particular.
Then a quick trip to the Upper East Side for Dylan’s Candy Bar! The boy was, well, like a kid…
My sister pointed out to me that in the space of two days, we have been to 1) the Upper East Side, 2)Brooklyn, 3)Flatirons, 4)Upper West Side, 5)Times Square and 6)Midtown. And we have done this with a 5 1/2 year old in tow who is proving to be a very sturdy traveler.
It is so fun travelling with him. He has a few moments, but for the most part he is engaged, interested, active and never, ever complains.
Tomorrow, up to Westchester!
The boy and I are in the big city for the week!
The day did not get off to an auspicious start as, halfway to the airport, I realized I had left our Broadway tickets on our desk at home. My husband was less than amused, and later grudgingly took the tickets to FedEx to deliver them to us tomorrow morning. After that it was a fabulous day.
The flight was incredibly smooth which I entirely credit to our highly experienced pilot.
We met up with Sapana at her place, had a quick bite to eat and then figured we’d head to the Met for the last hour or so.
The knights made a big impression:
As did the mummies:
And then, well, the museum closed. The boy protested and successfully snuck past a few museum guards to catch just a few other exhibits.
Outside, he and Sapana did their best fountain impression:
We milled about for a bit and then decided to go for a quick walk in Central Park, but were distracted by the Ancient Playground, which is great! The boy had a fabulous time on the (sort of) ziggurat.
Heading home, tired, he created his own subway perch:
And then we finished with a delish dinner of empanadas at a Latin restaurant in Brooklyn:
We came home and played a game of “whoonu” with Sapana, Sachin and Sapana’s roommate. The game consists of cards with random things listed on them, such as “baseball games,” “meatloaf,” and “dinosaurs.” You’re supposed to pick the cards that one of the players likes the most, and it rotates around players.
When it came to my turn, the boy chose “pot pies” for me. Now, I hate pot pies, and was about to rank that my least favorite choice. Unable to contain himself while I was deciding whether “roller coasters” or “bicycling” was my favorite, the boy began to giggle, “pot pies!” I changed strategy and quickly named pot pies as my absolute favorite thing in the world, then bicycling, roller coasters, and lastly “taking naps.”
He’s in bed now, ready to start another day of adventure tomorrow!
Sunday and Saturday were beautiful. 80-90 degrees, sunny, perfect for frolicking outside, and just the sort of weather to lull a gardener into a false sense of security.
Needless to say, I was fooled.
We got a bit more ambitious with the garden this year–tearing out the front patch between the sidewalk and the street to make way for squash, watermelon, and chard.
Breaking up the plot of dandelions and dead grass was tough, backbreaking work that I watched while sitting on the porch drinking margaritas. Eric borrowed a pickaxe from a neighbor and swung it through the heavy clay soil for about 2 days. Even so, much of it is still hard as rock and I’m hoping that it’ll get better just by planting. Using an online calculator, I learned that I’d have to purchase 16 bags of compost to till in 3″ into that area. I settled for 4 and mixed it in. We left a patch of ground cover along the road and in between the two plots to maintain access for people to get out of their cars.
Saturday, I bought all my starts from the same person as last year.
Sunday, I couldn’t wait any longer. I planted, even though the snooty woman at Echter’s told me to wait.
A few years ago, I was talking about Colorado gardening with a friend, I can’t remember who. They said something along the lines of, “You know, I’m not really a ‘walls of water’ gardener.” Ever since then, I figured it was really really uncool to be a “walls of water gardener” and never gave them a second thought. Then last year I went to a different friend’s house, someone I think of as pretty cool, and she had walls of water up. I reconsidered my self-image and bought walls of water to protect my little seedlings this year.
Planted this year: 2 types of corn, rainbow chard, 2 types of pole beans, 3 types of cucumbers, 4 types of tomato, 1 tomatillo plant, 2 types of eggplant, 3 types of peppers, basil, oregano, dill, rosemary, onions, lettuce, peas, carrots, radishes, butternut squash, watermelon, thyme, lemongrass, chives, and beets.
The next day, it rained. And rained and rained and got down to about 32 degrees.
I was scared for my little plantlings. I texted Eric from work and told him to cover the cucumbers and squash.
Two days of cold and rain later, everything is fine!! I’m sort of ridiculously happy about that.
One of the cucumbers got a little crispy, but I think will make it:
And the tomato and tomatillo plants were snug in their homes:
The spinach that overwintered is probably ready to pick, with the new seeds doing okay.
The cilantro has grown into little trees, and the last of the radishes are ready to harvest:
The first of the pea blossoms are here!
And we even had a blessing from the garden butterfly/fairy:
Looking forward to watching everything (and everyone) grow this year!
(And as a last note, here’s a comparison where things were last year. So many more green plants this year, and so much deader grass. I don’t think it’s going to make it–I see some sort of gravel/flagstone in the future. I know, I know you all told me so.)
Parents of smallish children, a word of advice.
Whatever you do, do NOT fold laundry while watching the last season of “Friday Night Lights.”
Pick something a bit less poignant, such as “Maid in Manhattan,” or “The Sweetest Thing,” or even “The Proposal.”
Because if you don’t, what will happen is this: you will pick up some ridiculously small dress and begin to fold it. On the screen will be scenes of children acting like teenagers, growing up, growing away, and moving away. And you will realize that the ridiculously small dress you are folding was once a lot smaller, and will soon be replaced by larger and larger dresses (though, of course, judging by some of the clothes I see on adolescents they may not necessarily get that much bigger) and eventually you will simply not be folding any more clothes, as they will hastily be shoved into dorm drawers.
And then you will start to cry.
Spare yourselves and heed my words.