Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Story That Almost Wasn't Written

At this point, we’ve established that I am 1. Not a writer and 2. Live a boring life.  Or to clarify on #2, I once lived a more exciting life (and I would say now my life is fairly exciting) but there was a period in which I had nothing really interesting going on.  I went to work, did stuff around the house and tried to find something that  1. I could cook and 2. My husband would eat.   Life in the Seventh Borough was giving me an overall feeling of Blah and I even felt a little homesick for the Second Borough, land of my birth.   My body had found a weekly Zumba class, but my mind was falling into this socio-entertainment void carved out by life in the Seventh Borough.
 So one evening, just like that, I decided to create a blog.
I remember the day well: a typical ride home on the commuter rail, I was reading my Martha Stewart Living magazine and lapsing in and out of delusions that I was going to make all the crafts and recipes in this issue.  Ok, well maybe not all of them.  I started to dog-ear the corners of the pages containing recipes and crafts that most interested me.  Yes, just a select few (who doesn’t garden in February, - insert snide tone here, - sure I have a hydroponic greenhouse on my property, who doesn’t?)    As the train crossed the Harlem River from the First Borough into the Fourth Borough, and the magazine’s folded pages were starting to outnumber its unfolded pages, I grew giddy with all these time-consuming plans.  I was losing my mind (do you know how much raw vanilla bean costs?) Wait, I might be a little bored but I still have a full-time job.  No- I had it, I wouldn’t make the crafts (flower beds, homemade chicken stock, etc) I would blog about how to do all this stuff in less time, you know, for the ladies who lunch – at their desks and really don’t have time to find acid-free tissue paper and bookbinder’s twine on the weekends. 
As the train passed the New York Botanical Gardens (a back yard full of peonies and 27 types of heirloom tomatoes, anyone?) and through the light-industry sections of the Sixth Borough, my hopes fell.  If I blogged about simplifying the lovely Martha’s creations and concoctions I would be both a plagiarist and a liar.  These craft ideas wouldn’t be mine alone, and it would take me a lot more time to figure out how to make these goodies in less time.  It was a bad idea. 
I remember the day well, though not because I spent my evening commute on a bad idea.  As the train unloaded Seventh Borough residents at its Seventh Borough train station, I walked home along my usual route with nothing out of sorts until the faint wail of a fire truck became more than just that and alerted my ears that something was up.  I crossed the street to the block our house sits on and to my surprise, the now blaring fire truck crossed with me.  The fire truck was about to park in front of my house when a police car zipped ahead of it and blocked our driveway.  I started to run up the hill to our house, but the first responders were already at the door. 
The house looked ok, no spewing flames or gushing black smoke.  As I entered the door, one of the firemen told me, “It’s just the smoke alarm”.  I guess it was a slow day for Eastchester 911.  My husband had set off the smoke alarm (which is connected to the house alarm, which apparently alerts a haz-mat team if you burn toast) cooking chicken on a stove top griddle.  Not some Martha Stewart herb-infused lemon chicken.  Just regular chicken.  It was a bad idea.
But that day, or maybe a few days later, after the smoke cleared, (literally) I registered the Seventh Borough News at Blogspot.  And I had absolutely no idea what I was going to write about.  
Eleven months went by and then my son was born - hence the new excitement in my life!  In my post-partum mess of love, hormones and sleep deprivation, not to mention being an actual mess – see mother as receptacle for baby vomit and pee, I had this grand idea that my blog would be a series of ‘Dear Baby’  letters where I impart everything I have ever learned about life onto this tiny little creature who only knows six sensations: being held, not being held, wet, dry, hungry, not hungry.   Maybe that would be a bit too much to chronicle on a blog, after all maternity leave was only three months.  I think the imparting of everything I have ever learned onto my offspring is called ‘offspring’s childhood’.   And it lasts for about eighteen years. 
Ladies and Gentlemen, here we are.   I have no crafting tips to blog about, I have no recipes for you that may or may not sound the alarm at the Firehouse.  I really have to parse out life lessons for the baby over two decades.  But if you are still visiting this blog site at week three, something must be catching your attention, and if all you want is to check this blog for tax advice, I’m happy to help on that too.
 I promise all I have to give is all I have to give.  And I will give it to you, faithful readers.   I will take my once-boring life and share it with you – by sharing I don’t mean in such a way that violates my HIPPA rights - but I hope, in a way that connects us all.

Next week at the Seventh Borough:  1978 meets 1997.     
******Editor's Note: In order to post comments, you will have to log into your gmail or similar account.  Thanks, 7BN 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Geography, for $800

Answer: A metaphorical place, beyond Bridge-and-Tunnel land, more removed from Metropolis, heavily residential, not so pedestrian friendly, seemingly free from crime, inadvertently isolating and serviced by commuter rail.

Question: Where is the Seventh Borough?

After our wedding, and I don't mean right after our wedding, like when you are still finding pins in your hair, or you can trace the lines from your Spanx all over your torso like a snake tattoo, no I'm talking about a few months later, when all the hoopla has died down, we found ourselves in the Seventh Borough.

After our wedding, after the Thank You cards had been ordered and mailed out, after the sunburn marks from our 4x4 Jeep drive across Aruba faded away into our pale, dry Northeast winter skin, after I got over the Cosmo-induced Karaoke session on our honeymoon cruise (but not before Rob let me live it down - who knew Don McLean's American Pie had an eight minute thirty-three second version, and who puts 8 minute songs on a Karaoke list????), we found ourselves in the Seventh Borough.

After our mid-October wedding, after Thanksgiving, after our wedding China and household gifts had happily merged into our holiday meals, after looking at the photographer's album proofs during Christmas week, after New Year's toasts, after what seemed like a year of toasts and an endless river of Champagne, we found ourselves in the Seventh Borough.

After buying a home, after securing a mortgage, after minor repairs and a month-long paint job, after merging two apartments into a three-bedroom mini-colonial from the 1920's, after planning, living and recovering from our Brooklyn wedding, after many, many trips to Brooklyn in preparation for this wedding (to the point where I wondered why I ever left in the first place), after getting over my fear of the Tri-Borough Bridge (another story for another day), after fretting over the fact that our printed directions to our wedding instructed others to cross the Tri-Borough Bridge, which had also just been renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, and would that throw off GPS directions (????) we found ourselves in the Seventh Borough.

After our wedding, after two years of major life events, after adopting two sickly, flea-ridden, puss-eyed (read: conjunctivitis) kittens whom we nursed back to health (with love and a few hundred dollars at the vet), we found ourselves with nothing to do but go to work, make dinner and put out the recycling on Wednesday nights. In other words, we found ourselves in the Seventh Borough.

The Seventh Borough is a land of routine, uneventful Americana. Most Seventh Borough inhabitants emigrated from, or at one point lived, in Metropolis, in one of its Five Boroughs. The Sixth Borough provides a small cushion to keep the steerage of Boroughs One through Five from accidentally seeping into the Seventh Borough, as to preserve its uneventful-ness. Not too far removed from Metropolis, Seventh Borough citizens retain many of their Metropolitan characteristics: they walk and talk fast, they still compete over parking spaces, and they return to Metropolis not only for work, but for social, cultural and dining experiences.  The Seventh Borough's landscape is made up of rolling hills, covered with detached, single-family homes with ample, legal parking spots (despite peoples' tendencies to continue to fight over parking spots, it's a kill-or-be-killed instinct that once it's in you, it can never be shaken).

 But like any other Borough, town, hamlet or city-state, it's just a place to live, where other people also live. Perhaps Borough #7 seemed boring. Or perhaps after two years of major life events, we seemed boring.

 Let's face it, I'm an accountant and my husband is an engineer. We're not exactly Lucy and Desi, we're more like Fred and Ethel. No, really we're more like Liz and Rob who aren't on any television show at all. We are in our thirties and we still have a lot of Ikea furniture. We have over 7 versions of the game Monopoly. We drive a Toyota. I'm sure we make chicken for dinner more than two nights a week.  We put out the garbage on Sunday nights and we put out the recycling on Wednesday nights. The big excitement these days includes sitting around the firepit out back with a glass of wine.

But slowly, we acclimate, to both regular life, and our Seventh Borough community.  We found a new parish Church, we found the best places to park the car in the church parking lot (they are all legal parking spots, but you know, some spots are better than others). We found some good local places to eat, we frequent Stop and Shop and we've figured out what checkout lines are the best to avoid. We've become friendly with our neighbors in the red house next door. We voted on the school budget. We joined the town swimming pool. We are in Rome, and we have begun to do as the Romans do, boring or otherwise. (Who am I kidding, Rome would be so much better!) Truth is, we may be just as uneventful and routine as the Seventh Borough itself. But hey, we DVR Jeopardy!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Resolution for the New Year

I am not a writer.

But I am going to try my hand at storytelling. I am not a 'words' person. I am not a 'Literature' person. I am not a crossword puzzle person. I do okay with vocabulary but I would never bet my life on my spelling ability. I get very frustrated watching Wheel of Fortune when too many letters are still hidden and I'm easily distracted by the prizes. Especially the vacation prizes. I am sure you 'words' people cringed when you noticed my second sentence began with a conjunction. You may have already noticed I spelled spelling correctly (I checked that too, for irony's sake). The world needs more people who value accuracy.

I would describe myself as more of a 'numbers' girl. I like numbers and they seem to like me as well. Numbers have served me well, most math classes came easily to me, and numbers have kept me employed over the past decade. My ability with numbers helped me win the Math Bee in my school in the seventh grade, and then my numbers left me in the lurch.  I moved on to the Brooklyn-Wide Math Bee of 1991, where I was swiftly, though not painlessly, knocked out in the first round. I was broken. I sat in the front row of the audience throughout the remainder of the competition, trying to distract myself by checking out the uniforms that the other math chicks and dudes were wearing, rationalizing that my navy blue plaid was much better than some of the maroon plaids, the brown plaids, or worse yet, the Kelly green plaids represented on stage. I stewed in my own misery until the competition ended and there was a new Math winner. I couldn't, for the life of me, remember who won that day, so hopefully no one else remembers the girl in navy who was the first one down.

I think when you work with numbers everyday, it's possible they lose their luster. Then, at work, I spent one day on a very large figure.  One Friday, I had to move two billion dollars. That's $2,000,000,000.00. It wasn't like a 'cash in a suitcase left in a dark alley or bus terminal locker' type of thing. It was legit (so they tell me). Once that event was settled, I thought it was a good time to go grab a beer after work. Despite my big money day, I only had $3.77 in cash in my wallet, so I settled for a Latte. The only way you can get a beer for $3.77, in Midtown, is if you find a really good happy hour, because I doubt you will find a dive bar on Park Avenue. And if you find a really good happy hour, it's probably 11:30 in the morning. And if you're drinking at 11:30 in the morning, you're probably not going to work. And if you're drinking at 11:30 in the morning, probably no one is going to trust you to move $2,000,000,000.00, unless, of course, it's your own money. And if I had $2,000,000,000.00, I wouldn't be dusting off nickels stuck at the bottom of my desk drawer to upgrade that Latte from a Tall to a Venti.

New Year's is all about numbers: calendars, clocks, countdowns, resetting, restarting, refreshing, and finding those number-shaped glasses to wear on your party face (which will ultimately leave you covered in glitter).  Earlier last year, I thought it would take some monumental shift of my entire being to kick-off this blog and switch off my number-head and switch on an ability to write creative non-fiction (or what I am hoping will be interpreted as creative non-fiction).  I was wrong.  However, I was not stewing in my own misery this time around.  Last year, my entire being was monumentally and irrevocably shifted when I became a mom, and I'm feeling a bit more skilled at multi-tasking these days.  I'm sure that's somewhat out of necessity and also due to, what I'd like to call a 'Maternal Delusion of Grandeur' whereby a peacefully sleeping baby makes you think you can do anything and everything is just right with the world, even when it's not.  Also, from what I've taken in over the last few months about writing, is that it all just comes down to giving yourself the time and space to think, to be disciplined in protecting this time and space, and to have a notebook handy to jot down ideas (or in my case, I send text messages to myself, which I am sure will look interesting if my phone records ever get subpoenaed).  And I think if you boiled down most New Year's Resolutions, they come down to disciplining yourself to do something that's good for you.  If not also good for others.  I have already come to realize this blog will be a good exercise for me.  I hope you will like it too.

See you next Saturday at the Seventh Borough!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

First Post coming this weekend, Jan 5th 2013!  Welcome to the Seventh Borough!