Tag Archives: friends

The Storm

My city. It was terrible to watch the water sweep in and the lights to flicker out in my beloved New York last Monday. I was so worried about my friends, scattered throughout all 5 boroughs and New Jersey, but especially those in flood zones. If I was still living in my apartment on the Upper East Side, I would not have had to evacuate, but I would have been right on the cusp. I stayed up almost all night refreshing facebook, twitter, the NY Times, anything to tell me what was going on. And Tuesday morning, when the wind and water subsided, I waited for friends to check in, to tell me what they saw, to tell me if their homes were okay, how they were coping without power. The miracle of internet on phones.

And all my friends eventually checked in. Except one.

I found out through a mutual friend that one of my friends from the Obama ’08 campaign was gone, taken by a falling tree in Brooklyn along with her friend, on Monday night. Jessie Streich-Kest was a sweet and unique girl, only 24, only starting her career as a teacher. I spent so much time with her during the campaign, we petitioned together, got lunch for each other, and sat with each other in the office listening to Pandora for what felt like years, but was only a few months.

She was such an interesting person, a born activist and an irrepressible dog-lover, never afraid to go up to someone with a petition or to ask if she could pet their puppy. My admiration for her as a volunteer was tremendous. She and I remained friends after the campaign, whenever she was in town on breaks from UPenn or I was back from whatever state I’d been campaigning in, we’d get lunch, see movies, go shopping. My husband and I, despite being 8+ years older and having very different lives, kept in touch with her because she was so interesting and charming. Jessie and I worked on the midterm elections, for different candidates in the same column, and she finished up at school. When I left NYC, I hoped she would come visit me in Montreal. I hoped I would visit NYC more often to see her and my other friends. My last visit, Jessie and I played phone tag the entire trip and I will regret those missed calls forever.

And I’ll miss her so much. Her students, her friends, her family, her brother, and her parents have suffered an unfathomable loss and my heart breaks for them. I hope they can continue to fight for all the great causes for which Jessie worked so hard. My condolences to her friend Jacob’s family and friends, even though we never met, I know a life-long friend of Jessie’s must have been a pretty amazing person indeed and what I’ve read about him recently completely confirms it. To give to their respective memorial funds click HERE.

Many of my friends in NYC, especially those in lower Manhattan, are still without power, without access to their homes, without transit options. I wish there were some way I could help them. They are tenacious people and I know they’ll recover, again, from what feels like injury to a city only recently healed.

The days ahead for the people in NYC and along the coasts, those that lost their friends and family, will be so hard. Everything will seem too big. I wish them the best and am thinking of them always.

“What saves man is to take a step. And another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it.”
Antoine de St Exupery

Reunion!

After 2 loooong years apart, a baby and a major move each, Julia and I have finally been reunited!

My daughter and I landed in California on Wednesday afternoon (after an oh-so-delightful 5 hour flight that made me want to weep for the sad state of airline seat/leg room) and my daughter and Julia’s son met for the first time. They are pretty cute together. Even though Julia’s son is pretty shy, he’s been doing well with us around.

I think I can speak for both of us when I say that Julia and I are ecstatic to be back together; it has been way too long. She is a busy working mom so, she still has to go to work every weekday, but we are maximizing our evenings and weekends. I don’t think she’s joking when she asks me to move in and be her stay-at-home mom, but I am pretty sure she would find out how annoying I really am after a few weeks.

Today, we took the kids to ride a miniature steam-locomotive train (a “parovoz” in Russian, I have learned, I always learn new Russian words with Julia) and my daughter got to ride on her first Carousel. We went to the pool, the playground, ate dinner outside… it has been a lovely start to the visit.

I hope to keep up with posting while I’m here, but I might be off being fabulous. Hooray for bi-coastal friends.

True friends

I happened to catch a episode of “The Simpsons” a few weeks ago about Marge joining some mother’s group for socializing. I am not sure what the whole episode was about because I was in and out of the room, but there was one line at the end that was so true that I made my husband write it down. After Marge decides that the other women in her mom’s group are all really uptight bitches, she quits and Homer tells her:

“Maybe true friends aren’t women you randomly meet in a mommy-and-me class; they’re random people you meet in a college dorm!”

To Julia, my random true friend since 1998.

Look I know we are both pregnant, but we need to stop eating for a second and smell this candle. It's magical.

Plattsburgh

I just got home from a 2.5 day excursion to visit a friend in scenic Plattsburgh, NY. And by scenic I mean, if you are not at on the Lake and staying at a hotel near the mall, you better like views of parking lots. Needless to say, it was perfect for our purposes because it was a good mid-way point between our cities to which I could take the train, offered us a inexpensive place to stay that had a nice pool and nearby stores/restaurants, and did not offer much distraction from our sole mission to let the kids play and just “hang out.”

My friend brought 11 bags for a 2 day stay. This is traveling with toddlers. I brought 3, but I also forgot a second shirt, socks for the baby, and I ran out of diapers on the last day, so I lose.

The first thing we did is bravely attempt dinner out with two 13 month olds. All in all, it went very well! I think only the carpet lost.

After that, we went to the supermarket and loaded up on baby snacks and extremely unhealthy adult snacks (hello chocolately caramel corn!). We got back with just enough time to take the kids down to the pool and try get them them REALLY tired before a quick bath and bed. They both slept pretty well the first night.

The next morning, we let them play all over the room for awhile and fed them breakfast. The kids had a grand time at such activities as: putting stuff in the “bible” drawer and taking it back out, stealing each others toys, opening and closing the temperature panel on the a/c unit, banging on said a/c unit, giggling wildly, sharing sippy cups, bouncing on the bed, running around going “da da da da,” and eating goldfish, crackers, apples, yogurt melts, and puffs.

It is also possible we heard Adele’s “Someone Like You” on the radio 500 times.

We didn’t venture out until lunchtime when due to the relative success of Dinner 1, we attempted another sit-down meal. A gentleman at a nearby table actually remarked to us that we had very “well behaved children.” I wouldn’t go THAT far, but they were pretty good! They ate some food, they didn’t make tons of noise, the floors were not strewn with absolutely everything… We made a very thorough survey of Target and a tiny dip into Michaels and then headed back to the hotel because the kids needed naps.

Dinner we decided, was best to order in. And boy, we nailed it. I don’t know if you’re ever planning on being in Plattsburgh, but we highly recommend Mangia. It’s a Italian, brick-oven pizza kind of place. But everything we had was delicious. The crab-cakes were something special and the ravioli were beyond.

Since swimming worked so well the night before, we tried that again. My daughter likes to take her rubber ducks to the pool and throw them in from the edge and then try to go in after them. You really have to watch her or she will try to jump in by herself. The kids were pretty delighted with the pool, even if it was kind of chilly. We warmed them up with a dip in the hot tub. And before you get all hysterical about babies in hot tubs, let me add, it was a pretty mild hot tub. I’ve run hotter baths for my daughter.

I was prepared for some really epic sleeping after their post swim bath, but it was not to be. My friend’s son went to bed like a good boy, but my child? Oh no. She decided to whine and thrash about, disrupting his winding down. So I had to quickly put her in warmer clothes, stuff her in the Ergo baby carrier with her blanket, and walk around outside for almost an hour. Freaking ridiculous.

I walked by a lot of closed strip mall-type places. There was one with a bridal store. The dresses in the window were alarmingly tacky. Attention future brides of Upstate NY, please avoid the polka-dot sash number.

After both kids were FINALLY in bed, we got to sit still for a moment and eat chocolatey things, drink fizzy things, and talk about life and stuff.

It was nice.

We packed up the next morning, took the kids for lunch out again (the floors may have lost again), and then I had to catch my train. I pushed nap-time back as far as I could hoping to catch a really good block of sleep on the train and I’m happy to say it worked. But bedtime when we got home was a mess again. I guess my toddler is just a little wound up from her trip.

I am, on the other hand, so very tired. But I’m glad we went. It was a good idea and I think everyone had fun. Even our waiters.

Dating for mommy friends

I moved right after I had my baby, like RIGHT after (a story for another time) and didn’t know anyone in my new city. I joined some online groups, I joined meetup.com, I went to various activities hoping to meet interesting new mommy friends. I sort of resented the practice of putting people together in groups like this; “do you have kids? well then we have something in common!” But let’s face it, it’s probably just as good an icebreaker/common interest as any. “Do you collect pre-1980 rock on vinyl? Join our club!” “Do you love knitting last minute gifts*? Come to our circle!” “Do you think there should be more transparency in government? Come join our organization and make thousands of phone calls. Bring your phone!”

But I digress…

I starting noticing that meeting new mom-friends is a bit like dating. You go to an event. You chat with other moms. You hit it off with someone. You maybe exchange emails or something. They tell you they’ll message you. Nothing. The end.

Is it me? Did I talk to much? Say the wrong thing? Have especially heinous boob-stain? Was I boring? Not their type? Are they too busy with their lives/real friends/finding much cooler mommies to hang out with?

Maybe it’s WORSE than dating because it’s OTHER WOMEN. So you want to look nice, but not TOO nice. I know how to dress for guys (boobs). But women know when you’ve gone too far to look “nice” and you don’t want to overdress them and make them feel like you are desperate or trying to outdo them. So it’s a delicate balance of what to wear that looks nice, is comfortable (hello? you still have a kid to wrangle!), but doesn’t look like you spent as much time in your head deciding what to wear as you really did. After all, you want to be easy-going, effortlessly cool mommy! No one wants to be friends with neurotic, “is this brown too red-brown for these olive-brown pants?” mommy.

And it’s all for the kids, really. You want your kids to hit it off and play and have fun and learn things from each other. You really do. You just would like to have an adult conversation once in awhile. Is that so much to ask? But kids add ANOTHER handicap to this mommy-dating, because you can control what you wear, what you say (mostly, maybe if you’re not me), and how you act. You cannot control how your kid decides to act. Maybe they missed a nap. Maybe they are starving. Maybe they are teething. The same goes for the other mommy, who might be trying to keep her kid from beating yours over the head with “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and is worried you now think she’s raising a psychopath. There is also a whole range of embarrassing things your kid could do, and a variety of embarrassing ways you could react/overreact to those things. For those of you with older kids, embarrassing things your kid could SAY also are on that list! Horror…

To be sure, there are a lot of nuanced interactions going on. And everyone is always nice. SO NICE. It’s hard not to believe you won’t be BFFs because everyone, in my experience, has always been so gracious, accommodating. It’s important to always be yourself, they say… but what if it’s totally like you to blurt out “I think you are amazeballs and I want you to be my FB friend and take long afternoon walks with you.” No one says that! You can’t “be yourself.” Don’t be ridiculous!

I keep meeting people. Lovely people. And it’s fun while it lasts. I just haven’t found that one (or two, I’m willing to go there) person. I haven’t gone so far as so offer free childcare services for them (is that like putting out on a first date?) but boy, could I use some free childcare-swap buddies.

But I think we gotta get to know each other first…
;)

*I seriously once saw a book called “Last-Minute Knit Gifts.” I can think of a lot of things to give last minute but NONE of them involve KNITTING. Who knits this fast? (Well I can think of ONE person…)

Welcome to Our Blog

When the first friend in my age group called me about 8 years ago to tell me she was having a baby, I remember it went something like this:
“Are you sitting down?”
“Yes, actually I am.”
“No, are you really sitting down?”
“Yes!”
“Like you really need to be sitting.”
“What is it already?”
I think we were about 22 at the time and I had just finished college and decided to take the mind boggling step of (gasp!) getting engaged. Having a friend ready to take on this whole being-a-parent thing was like staring down the staircase in “Vertigo.” My generation having kids? You have to be joking! Our parents had spent YEARS telling us how HARD they worked and how MUCH they sacrificed for us, there’s no way we could do that because we were lazy, ungrateful, and mostly clueless. Well here was one of us, ready to take it all on.
After my head stopped spinning, I think I tried to comfort her nervousness by saying something like “well, you don’t have to become our parents, you can be the parent you want to be… this doesn’t have to change who you are.”
I have never been so right and wrong in the same sentence.
Now I have many friends, my age, that have children (by choice, no less)! And last year I joined the ranks.  I have found myself facing many of the same problems that have driven parents mad for centuries as well as some delightful new ones. At the same time, there are tools at my disposal for which parents not two generations ago would have given a kidney. For example, I have the ability to connect with my friends and fellow parents online, day or night, near or far, and talk about serious issues or complete drivel at great length and little cost.
It in that spirit that this blog experiment was born. A year after my friend and I had our babies just twenty days apart, we decided to take our conversations with each other public and hope that someone else out there find comfort in knowing that we may be parents, but we are still us.
-Shannon