Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Adios 2008

It's 10:30 p.m., Dec. 31, 2008. Randi is asleep on our couch, Stella is asleep in her crib. I am awake at my keyboard, but would just as happily be asleep too. Not that New Year's Eve wasn't eventful. It was, just in all the wrong ways.

Today was the day the removal of the lead paint finally took place in our apartment. To make a long story short we had noticed chips when we first moved in to our new place. I had them sent to a lab, and they had lead content. We argued back and forth with our building and building manager about how they were going to do the job, and finally they assured me the people doing the work were all EPA certified.

So I was happy, at least for a little while. Today they showed up. The main contractor, Nick, explained that it is a very small job, so they won't be using the chemical paint solvent to remove the area in question. The main area we were concerned about was a small area of peeling and chipping paint on our bedroom door. I said okay. So the workers scraped it off, and sealed it.

Now, Randi had laid out a checklist of things I was supposed to do. I was supposed to take photos of them doing the work, so we can document whether it was being done right or not. I forgot to. I was not supposed to let them dry scrape, because it makes lead dust. I didn't do that either. She called me out on it, and rightfully so. All that arguing with the building was for nothing. Because dry scraping is the one thing you should never do. Yes, the job looks all nice and tidy, but I can't help worrying about lead dust in the air from the work.

The work was done, and we mopped. The workers mopped. And when Randi got home she mopped the entire apartment again. I wiped down the wall of our bedroom, and the area around where the work was done. We turned on our air filter in that area to cleanse the air of particles. We had removed all of Stella's toys and changed all her bed sheets and removed her play mat to the car before the work was done. So I know we did a lot, but we didn't do everything, and it was all my fault. I know the floors are clean, I know her toys are clean, I know her bed and our bed, where she nurses, are clean. I know this, but still I worry tonight, about the air, about what she breathes in. I go out of 2008 feeling like I let Stella, Randi and myself down. Because I did.

It's hard, being a dad. I know it's hard being a mom, maybe harder. But this is a stressful life, always concerned about things that can happen. Knowing that I could have and should have done more. It's been the most intense year of my life. No other year even comes close.

In 2000 I ran out of money and couldn't go outside for several months. That was intense, but this is worse.

In 1995 I was in between jobs and my only source of income for several months came from the insurance money from when I wrecked my car. This is much, much worse.

Sometimes the pressure puts me and Randi at odds, putting it mildly. We got into a terrible argument today about the paint issue, or rather we would have argued about it except I agreed with her. I blew it, and now we can't relax.

I wish this could be more upbeat, but it hasn't been a real upbeat several days around here. Stella's lead level currently is quite low, and we hope and pray it stays that way. Those are my wishes for the coming year. That and world peace.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Stella Rae Workout

Right now I am in Upton, Ky. the home of my wife's family. We were here for the holidays. So lots of passing the Brooklyn Baby Baby around from family member to family member. And, eventually, she'd get upset, so either the BBM or I would take her back. And one thing I noticed is that this little girl LOVES being picked up and lifted in the air, over and over again. So much so that it's became a go-to thing to do in order to cheer her up. As a result I now have some guns now where my arms used to be.

Okay, so that sounds like bragging. And maybe if you saw them you wouldn't be all that impressed. In fact, that's likely. I considered posting a pic here of my "guns" but thought that would be a little bit too much information, for not all that much payoff. It's entirely possible that in the wide, wide world of men with guns for arms these don't even qualify. I can accept that. Maybe they're squirt guns. But they're big by my standards.

You see I hate the gym. And when I do go I typically do the exercises I already like. I like the elliptical machine, so I do that, I like to stretch, so I do that. I like chest exercises, so I do those. But I hate anything to do with my biceps. They've never been big, even when I have gone to the gym a lot. And neither have my calves. They've always been kind of small. So I typically skip those workouts.

But living with our 24 lb. baby has, without me even realizing it, created a daily workout for me. Whether I want to or not. She gets upset, I pick her up and lift her over my head. I do it about 10 times in a row, maybe 12 or 13 sometimes. She LOVES it. She smiles, she kicks out her legs. No matter how upset she had been before hand all of a sudden a massive grin spreads across her face, and she laughs and laughs. So I have to do it. And as she becomes heavier, which, believe me, she is, I become just a little bit stronger.

Again, maybe no one would notice, that's cool. But this is the ONE physical side effect of having a kid that's been positive. Randi's gotten stronger too, by the way. I feel her arm and it is far more solid than it has been at any time since I've known her. She too lifts the Brooklyn Baby Baby all day.

I've come to have a theory that maybe this all is a part of evolution. As parents lift their children more they become more powerful, and better able to defend them. Whoa unto the cave bear that would try to seperate the BBM from her BBB. Even I wouldn't want to get in the middle of that.

I look at my face in the mirror sometimes. My beard is way more gray than it was eight months ago. My eyes are baggier, my back hurts a bit, I look and feel older. It's a small price to pay for what we have received. But now, thanks to the Stella Rae Workout, I can open jars just a little bit more easily. So I can eat more. A fair trade all around.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Parking Tickets Up The Ass: Pt. 5

I walked into the graceless gray square and realized my feeling had been right: I was in the right place. I could tell by the line of bored looking people, the absence of enough chairs, the bullet-proof glass and the lack of restrooms.

I walked up to the first window to the left that I saw. In Manhattan this was where I had needed to stand to start the process.

"NO!" shouted a woman from behind the bullet-proof glass. "Not THIS one!" She then gestured to another line. A sign said that I needed to line up at the "T" shape in the floor. I looked down. As advertised the floor had a white "T" made of tiles in the floor marking where I had to line up. There were about seven people in front of me. I looked at my watch. It was 6:30 p.m. I got in line.

As you probably already have guessed the line moved slowly. There were two clerks behind the glass, one of whom wasn't even tending to the public, and the other that was, but only on her own, very slow, terms. Her butt was enormous, like two butts, and she would in due time shuffle from one window to another, getting some papers, making some copies of documents. It happened, but it didn't happen in any sort of quick way. And why should it? She worked for the State. It's almost enough to make a committed union man think that maybe Wal-Mart got it right with its union busting ways. I imagined what it might have been like in the former Soviet Union, where every line was like this one.

Over the better part of an hour I finally inched my way to the front. Despite the tedious nature of the wait it still was more pleasant than Manhattan's depot. People in Brooklyn are just nicer, which is a big reason to live here. Even one lady who's car had gotten towed because of something her idiot son did didn't seem all that upset.

"I guess I'll just have to sell the car to pay off all these tickets! Ha!" she said, sharing a good laugh with the clerk. God, in Manhattan that Type-A dickhead had gone on a screaming rampage because he had to wait an ENTIRE HOUR. Sometimes it's good to be an outer borough kind of guy.

Eventually it was my turn at the window. When my car had been towed initially I'd had a few moments of outraged indignation. There must be a mistake! I'm innocent. They'll pay! Or at least I won't pay! But then I realized that this lady really didn't care. Just like how there are no guilty men in jail--just ask them!--nobody can understand why their car was towed. I didn't either. I had paid up all my tickets, etc. But from the look on her face I could tell she not only didn't care, but was powerless to affect any change.

I handed her my license, and told her the license plate number. She looked it up, and told me what I owed.


GULP! That's for the tow and the two nights of storage. Then she instructed me, once I handed her my well-worn credit card, that I was to go outside and get in the shuttle van and it would drive me to my car.

So I paid up, and walked back outside into the storm. I saw the shuttle van, it was hard to miss, being the only blue police van in the parking lot. I walked up to it, and tried to get in.

"No! STEP AWAY FROM THE VAN!" Out of nowhere these two aggressive female cops yelled at me for having the temerity to try to get inside the vehicle and get out of the rain. "It is not ready for you to enter!"

Whatever, they sat in a nice dry police car. Both middle aged, one looked Irish and one looked Latino, but they united in their strong desire to get me to conform and beat a hasty retreat away from the van. Such brashness on my part.

Another cop walked up, and told me that I could stand under an overhang while the van gets ready. I took him up on it, and shivered pointlessly in the rain for another four minutes until the van did a three point turn, and was now ready, apparently, for the citizenry. Still cautious, I walked up shyly to the passenger door.

"Get in!" the driver, another woman, yelled. Get in I did. Soon three more people entered and we drove down a relatively long strip of tarmac until we were in the lot of towed cars.

My car was the last to be found, after ten minutes of looking. But find it we eventually did. The van waited for me, as I put the key in the ignition. Because, heaven forbid I should just hang out there, and thumb the eye of law enforcement by loitering in their lovely parking lot.

On the windshield where two tickets. I picked those up, although they were soaking wet. There was also the card for the place that had towed the car wedged in the driver's side window. No thanks! I took that and flung it on the ground, afraid I would get arrested for littering. I looked through the passenger side window, which was covered in white grease-pen writing from the police. What it said I couldn't tell but I would have to wipe that off later. For now it just screwed up my visibility.

But the ticket, crap, those I would have to read. Ugh. $60 a piece! So now my bill was $345. It was too painful to think about just then.

I warmed up the car for a minute and then started to slowly drive out, because the visibility was horrible. Once outside the lot I had to get out of my car and hand my green notice from the state--saying I had paid--to the cop guarding the entrance. While this happened I stood outside my car in the rain, with a strong light shining down from somewhere, and felt like I was escaping some kind of extra pointless and retarded jail. Finally he okayed my note and I was allowed my grateful egress. I felt like I was getting away with something, though I hadn't done anything wrong.

I made a vow to fight all my tickets, no matter what. Then I drove to Ikea.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Parking Tickets Up The Ass: Pt. 4

After about ten minutes of walking in the pouring rain, I just had a feeling I had to be going in the wrong direction. I didn't know what the Navy Yards would look like but my feeling was, it probably wasn't going to be a Starbucks. And that's all that seemed to be in this part of Dumbo. Chain stores, boutiques, the usual retail hell.

So I dropped into the Starbucks, to both get out of the rain and try and get my bearings. I asked the young woman behind the counter if she knew where the Navy Yards were and she looked at me as if I were speaking a foreign language or English. She had no idea what I was talking about, and had absolutely zero interest in helping me.

I looked around. Somehow you can always tell a local, longtime resident in even the most gentrified of areas. They look less rich, typically. That's pretty much the only real clue. I spied a middle aged Latino man entering the coffee shop. He seemed approachable, friendly, and like he knew where things were.

"Hi, sorry to bother you," I said. "But I am looking for the Navy Yard, am I in the right area?"

He smiled. "Oh, noooo," he said. "No, it's far away from here. No. You want to go that way," he gestured exactly in the opposite direction of how I had been going. "You want to go down York Street until you can't go any more and then you want to make a right. And keep walking and walking from there. It's far. Really."

I repeated the directions back to him, three times, because I have no short term memory.

"So how far am I?"

"About a mile and a half," he said. "Good luck."

A mile and a half, at night, in the pouring rain. One of the great ironies of getting your car towed is that you need your car to get it back because the tow lots, I've learned, tend to be so damned far from everything and everyone. But I had no choice. Walk it I would.

Unless I got lucky.

I started to look for cabs. Now, back in my day, six years ago, you never saw a yellow cab in Dumbo. You'd see the occassional livery Town Car, those guys go everywhere, but not actual New York City taxi cabs. There just wasn't enough traffic. But now in all its hipness, maybe I could get a ride.

And soon enough I saw one going down York Street. I waved it down, but it didn't pick me up. Instead a middle aged couple just sat in it, until they were joined by another middle aged couple. I was bummed, and kept walking. Then down the street I saw another. I did one of those classic New York screams--"Taxay!"--and he pulled up. No one stole my ride, and I was in business.

The cab had one of those annoying video screens that are almost impossible to turn off, but otherwise was quite comfortable and I was grateful for the ride. Another irony of New York: what would've been a hellish walk turned into about a five minute cab ride. Soon enough I saw them, the Navy Yards. You just know them when you see them. They are ugly and look like Navy Yards. I got out, tipped the guy two bucks by mistake instead of one, and then walked to the Navy Yards.

My only experience with the Navy Yards before this had been that they were mentioned a few times in the book "Last Exit To Brooklyn," usually as the setting for some latent 50s era covert-homosexuality, or as a place where violent white ethnic toughs cruise around looking for some cover latent 50s era homosexuality. In other words, a nice dangerous little place.

Well, that was all over. If it had once been a place filled with enraged gangs that era had passed as far as I could tell.

The Navy Yards had a guard in a little room, an overhang to barely shelter a few people shivering beneath and not much else, at first blush. Then I looked closer to see where I should go. I started walking but apparently was going the wrong way because a female cop immediately popped out of nowhere and started to berate me. "No, not THAT way," she yelled. I re-oriented myself and walked towards the graceless gray square that had to be where I needed to check in. These places are always graceless gray squares, I reasoned, so I had to be in the right location.

To be continued ...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Parking Tickets Up The Ass: Part Three

There is an old saw that if you've gone halfway to someplace you might as well go all the way, because going back to where you started would take just as long as reaching your destination. I have very little experience with taking actual trips and deciding whether to turn back halfway, but I have a lot of experience with this theory as it relates to public transportation in New York City.

Mainly with buses. The issue is that for it to be worth taking a bus you have to be at least a half mile, or so, from where you want to go. Otherwise you might as well walk it and save the wait.

The other issue is time. You can walk a half mile or so in about 15-20 minutes, if you're moving briskly. Now stick with me as I explain this, it is just about to make sense.

I had JUST missed the bus. I was about half a mile away from the F train, which I needed to get to the Brooklyn Navy Yards before they closed. I could walk it and get passed by a bus, having wasted all my effort, or I could wait it out, and hope that one comes soon. At night the buses are supposed to come every 15 minutes or so, but there is no guarantee. This is New York after all. I decided to wait it out.

And I waited, and I waited. It was getting later and later. Soon it was a little after 7:00 p.m. Bus after bus drove by our stop, all with signs saying they were out of service. It was drizzling. At the stop with me was a mother in a wheel chair and her little son. What they were doing I don't know. But even THEY got tired of waiting, and soon rolled away. I felt extremely sad for them, they looked like they needed help, but off they went. Meanwhile I kept waiting. Because now, surely, the bus will finally drop by because it's been so late. It's a strange paradox. And then I waited some more, proven wrong, once again.

Not to drag this out too much, but eventually a bus FINALLY stopped for us. I got on, and in due time it took me to the F train, where I walked down some more stairs, and awaited a train. In due time that finally showed up too, and off we went, at last.

It was getting later, and I still wasn't sure about my instructions. The train was crowded and wet, although I fought for, and finally found, a seat. The F runs above ground for part of its trip, once its on the Brooklyn side, and I looked into all those apartments, with all those people. Do you ever wonder what happens to them, what their story is? Or the people on the other subways that pass alongside you as you rail out to wherever your life is taking you right then? I do. It always looks like the set of a movie to me, although that movie, unfortunately, is "Shortbus."

As we finally approached York Street, the stop where I was supposed to disembark, I decided to stay in the subway and just ride on through to home. It was now 7:50 p.m. and they closed at 8:00 p.m. I didn't know for sure how to get to the Navy Yards, and I only had a few minutes to spare now. I decided to merely suck it up and pay the extra money they would require to storage the car. I would get the Honda tomorrow night, instead of killing myself to get it tomorrow morning. Because if New York has taught me anything, and that's debatable, it's that Murphy's Law is really the only law, and if something can take longer, and I can get lost, I will. So I said screw it.

Once back home I saw Randi and told her what happened. She understood. Stella was fussing, so I went into our bedroom and laid down and sang to her. We made up a lullaby for the little girl, and sometimes at night when she can't sleep I will sing it to her and then hum it to her, after a couple of choruses. She's almost 23 pounds now, and, really, the strongest reason we even have a car. It makes it easier to get around with her, and drive out to see family. And buy things from Target and Ikea. Which we do, quite a bit.

The next day I went to work, like usual. It was Thursday. The plan was to ask to leave work a little early to get the car. My boss, Mike, had been kind enough to understand what a monumental PITA this whole ordeal had been. I was lucky.

Work itself was another normal day, if any day in a collapsing economy can be said to be normal. Hear enough about record job losses and it starts to make you think. But I try not to worry too much about such things, and hope that by working hard and putting out a quality product I will show my value. So that's the plan.

I left slightly early. Now it was really raining, like buckets, like cats and dogs. I got off the York Street station once again, after checking the directions three times. I was in Dumbo, my old stomping ground.

An enthusiastic, if still amateur guitarist, I was privileged to have been the lead player in a rock band for three years. We were called Connecticut, and over the course of a few years we got to play in a variety of settings and clubs, including the old Meow Mix (the lesbian club made famous in "Chasing Amy") and the Knitting Fact0ry, which helped me realize a boyhood dream. I loved being in the band, but bands are made to be broken, and break up we did. Still I harbor fond memories of Dumbo, which is where our practice studio had been, and might still even be.

We practiced in a loft "owned" by a guy named Mike, who had been a producer on MTV's "Beavis and Butthead." I think Mike originally squatted the loft back in the late 90s, before Dumbo became tragically hip. When I first started going down there for band practice in 2000 there was a bar between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges--called Between The Bridges, natch--some bodegas and not much else. Now the area was aswarm with yuppies and their little stores.

And rain. It was raining for real, like sideways sheets in your face no matter how you walked. I had an umbrella in a rare act of foresight, but wasn't sure of my directions. So I got walking, hoping they would lead me right. They didn't.

To be continued ...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Parking Tickets Up The Ass: Part Two

So, I trudge back up 34th Street away from the Javitz center. It was drizzling and warm. Before I had left Pier 38, the Manhattan towed car depot, I called the number for the Brooklyn Navy Yards to make sure I had the directions right. Of course the directions made no sense, and were hard to understand. I also had to go through about three key pad entries until I finally got to the subway directions "in English," which is not considered the default language at this particular moment in NYC.

I was about as far West as one could go in Manhattan, right near the Hudson River. If you've never been here, Manhattan is a strange, strange island in that it has virtually no density along the waterfront, completely opposite from virtually every other place in the world, where people clamor to live near the water. As such in the middle of the island when you get to the Hudson there are a few cruise ships, the Intrepid aircraft carrier museum, some empty, decrepit piers, the car depot, the Jacob Javits convention center and that's about it. There is no local subway stop, and few buses. So I had to schlep back to the subway, in the rain, to get to the "F" train line, to get to Brooklyn's Navy Yards before it closed at 8:00 p.m., or pay to have them store my car another night. Though it wasn't my fault, since they told me the wrong address to begin with, got it?

So I started walking, and quickly realized I had to take a pee, like majorly. I considered whipping it out on the deserted sidewalk, channeling shades of old New York where you could do that sort of thing--and a whole lot more, by the way-- in that part of the city, and no one would care. The old Wild Westside, back in the mid-90s and earlier, used to be notorious for trannie prostitutes, and non-trannie prostitutes, gay clubs and drug use. You know, the good old days. But that era's passed, and I quickly shelved the idea of peeing publicly. Another reason: I wasn't drunk.

So, I had to go. Walking up 34th Street I passed a McDonalds, and walked in. About five years ago I was driving back from upstate New York with my brother and we both had to go so we drove into a Burger King, I think, and used the bathroom without paying. I wasn't sure if we should do this, as the bathrooms are for customers only. But my brother scoffed.

"Have you eaten at a Burger King before?" he asked, rhetorically. Well, yeah, of course. Our hometown, Closter, N.J., had one, and I had gone there countless times by the end of high school. You see, he explained, you've already given them hundreds of dollars in business. They owe you some bathroom time. It's part of the deal.

"So, it's like a social contract?" I asked.

Exactly, he said. I had never thought of it that way. So pee we did, with no guilt. Now I used that mindset in the Mickey D's.

The workers inside seemed like they had been waiting for me to arrive.

"It's upstairs," they said before I could even get the words out.

I had expected them to ask me to buy something before using the facilities, but they really didn't care. And if they had asked me that I had a defense prepared in my mind, at least: do you REALLY feel so much loyalty to the McDonald's Corporation that you feel you need to act as security guards for their bathrooms? For, what, $6.50 an hour?

But they didn't need my William Kunstler-esque arguments about the men's restroom and my moral claim to use it. I guess that I didn't resemble a shabby drug-addled homeless guy was a major plus in my column.

So, use it I did, and then left the restaurant, only to see my bus pull away across the street. Now another one wouldn't come for, how long? I had no idea. I decided to wait it out. It was not my best decision ...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Parking Tickets Up The Ass Pt. 1

You know what is really great after a long, hard, often frustrating day of hard labor, mixed in liberally with the wonderful but draining job of parenthood? Parking tickets up the ass.

I have been literally inundated with parking tickets over the last few weeks. Some were my fault, some were not, maybe, but I have a new strategy. I will fight them all. I don't care. They're fucking expensive. My car just got towed, too. I need to get some of mine back. I am tired of being a personal revenue source for the fat cop pension plan. I am tired of the abuse, I need to fight back by any means necessary.

Here is a short summary of my tickets.

1. It was late at night, I had work the next day. I parked on a dark street, that had alternate side of the street parking on Wednesday. I showed up two days later, and had a ticket in my windshield. How? I was too close to a hydrant. That will be $115.

2. I had driven to the vet's early before work about two weeks ago as a friend to pick up their cats. I couldn't find a spot anywhere except on the service road we live on. My choice: either be very late for work, or get a ticket. Work is our only source of income. I took the ticket. And the cats didn't even say thank you when I dropped them off at my friend's. Also, it was raining. I'm a good friend. That will also be $115.

By the way, there is no courtesy for alternate side of the street parking on Ocean Parkway. In our old neighborhood, Park Slope, they would clean one side of the street and you would double park until the coast was clear and then move your car back. Then the people on the other side double parked when it was time for their side of the street to get cleaned. Nobody got hurt, everybody's side of the street got clean. Or at least "cleanish." Here they can't do that because the service road is too narrow, so I'm moving the car like three times a week to find spots. It's a royal, royal pain in the ass.

3. I drove into Manhattan last weekend so Randi and I could attend a trunk show from the lovely and talented Alex Pflaster for her jewelry. (I am too lazy to link right now, but go to her website if you like nice, handmade, affordable jewelry. Her blog is listed as one of my favorites, so you really have no excuse not to.) First I drove around for a half hour after dropping off Randi and Stella before finding a spot. Then once I found the spot I made sure to pay the ticketing machine and place the ticket on the dashboard.

I got back 50 minutes later--because New York city only allows parking for one hour in some places, at the cost of $2 an hour!--in order to feed the meter and guess what I found? ANOTHER gosh-damned parking ticket! This one for $65. My sin? I had put my ticket in upside down on my dashboard.

This one really sent me over the edge. "GodDAMMIT!" I screamed, kicking a light post, again and again. Right then I really hated cops, just really goddamned hated them. I started talking like a Black Panther. "Fucking pigs, fucking pigs, goddamned cops are nothing but fucking pigs, I hate goddamned cops, I just fucking hate them fucking cops ..." and so on. I am sure you can imagine. If I were a cartoon character there would have been an angry work balloon filled with exclamation points, percentage signs and asterisks hovering over my inflamed head like a rain cloud.

Of course when an actual cop walked by I toned the act down a whole lot. Let's not get too crazy here, after all. Even though the cop, a parking ticket cop!, looked like it would take him the rest of fiscal year 2009 to run the forty yard dash. So, yeah, I'm a real ramparts charging guy, aren't I? But inside I didn't care. Right then I hated cops. And, oh yeah, I'm fighting this ticket. You can bet your ass. Or even his ass.

4. Two months ago when we signed our lease we drove all over god-forsaken Brooklyn to find the office of our landlord. Once there I carefully, once again!, fed the meter and placed the ticket on the dashboard. The lease took a while, as these things do, and it was a cold rainy day, again. Once outside I noticed they had given me a ticket within five MINUTES of my ticket expiring. Another $65! When does it end?

5. Last Sunday I parked my car on the service road in front of my apartment. The sign said I had to move the car Wednesday before work. So, okay, I will. I go to get it Wednesday and my car's gone! First I think I'm having a senior moment, though I'm only 36, but then I realize my car had to have been towed. For the love of all that is holy! Can this really keep going?

I called the city, and they told me my car is in Manhattan, for some reason. I leave work early, and walk to one of the few abandoned parts of the whole city, in the rain, to get to the car-towing depot. Once there I wait on a long line, for about an hour, only to be told that my car is in Brooklyn! Ugh, it never ends! To my right some fat-assed would-be exec is yelling at the woman behind the glass about how he's waited an hour for something or another. Soon a security guard walks up to him.

"Sir, why are you yelling?"

"I'm yelling because SHE's being rude!"

"You were being rude first, now stop yelling."

The Alpha-Fat Ass then quiets up, and resorts merely to grumbling under his breath about how he just GOT THIS CAR, and his information in California, and yada, yada, yada.

Now I have a problem. I have to get to the Brooklyn Navy yards before they close, in an hour and a half. You wouldn't think this would be hard, but everything in NYC takes longer than you think it will. Except for when they ticket your car. That shit's like instantaneous.

To be continued.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hello! It's Been A While!

Some new photos: The BBB and her Uncle Stu ...

Eating paper ...

The Brooklyn Baby Mama, The Brooklyn Baby Baby and a very hairy man.

Man, almighty, ever have weeks in a row where you just don't get a break? It's been like that in New Brooklyn Baby Manor. The move was a little over a month ago, the job is crazy busy, people are getting laid off all over the place (in general not specifically at my job) we have lead paint related issues that I'm not all that comfortable talking about here, and I live in Poland.

Okay, so the last point is not specifically true, but sometimes it feels that way. Ocean Parkway is the "real Brooklyn" in the sense that almost no one speaks English as their first language. It's kind of funny that that is what marks someplace as authentic to us newcomers to the neighborhood.

So let's talk about the Brooklyn Baby Baby then, okay?

Things are coming along well in this neck of the woods. Stella is now like 23 pounds. She's a big girl for her age, and she's starting the rudiments of crawling. She kind of pushes herself backwards, so it's the opposite of forward movement, but she's starting to get there. She also rolls herself onto her belly or side to sleep. First we were scared about this, but now she's been doing it long enough where we are more comfortable with it.

She's also starting to talk. Her first word, I am proud to say, was "dada," although she's since branched out into "mama" and "nee-nee." Nee-nee is her all purpose term for boob feeding. She'll get upset, start crying and then you'll hear a plaintive refrain: "nee-nee." It's adorable. Or, as Randi, the Brooklyn Baby Mama says, it would be adorable if she didn't say it "all the freakin' time!"

Seriously, this girl is a total boob adict. She still nurses all day, and for long stretches of time. She's supposed to suck for like five minutes, but does it for half an hour at a time. She's just always hungry, or she's simply addicted to the closeness. She's even started sucking on my arm, god knows why.

Another new thing happens when I get home at night. Nine times out of ten she's crying, and Randi can't do a whole lot to get her to sleep. So I go into the darkened bedroom, and lie down with her, and she rolls herself into my side, buries her face in my shirt and THEN goes to sleep. It's adorable, but I'd be lying if I told you I understood it. I guess she just like some dad time. Often I will go do to sleep, too, when this happens. Being a parent just keeps getting more and more singular all the time.

Other baby related highlights? Well, she sleeps a whole lot better than she did two or or three months ago. Those endless, sleepless nights that turned into weeks that turned into months that turned into my entire life are now mostly over. She still wakes up a few times during the night, most nights, but often after she's done eating her midnight snack I can put her back in her pack and play (a portable crib, for those of you who aren't toting rugrats just yet), and she'll actually roll over and go back to sleep.

Yes, this means she still sleeps in our bedroom. I know this is probably bad. We have a big, beautiful bedroom set up for her, but we still sleep in the same bedroom. The logical reason is because she still wakes up so much, so it's a shorter walk. But also I think it's that we're not totally ready for the seperation just yet. She might be, but I guess we aren't. Her crib, which is lovely, and a total bitch to assemble (and I did it TWICE) sits in her bedroom, holding stuffed animals, but no Brooklyn babies.

I guess that's my life right now. It's exhausting, and very focused on the child. I haven't written all that much (as most of you can see), I haven't played all that much music, I haven't done a lot of things that I used to take for granted. But I feel it hasn't been wasted effort, because the energy has gone into Stella. She deserves it.