Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The State of the Borough


Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, My Fellow Seventh Borough Fans, you do not need a formal speech here for me to tell you what state our Seventh Borough is in. 

It’s fricken cold!

My fellow Americans, tonight President Obama will deliver the State of the Union Address, and I give him full permission to borrow my State of the Borough Address: It’s fricken cold!

I mean, I think that sums it up, no?  We could go on and on about the economy and foreign relations and social services and immigration, but those issues are on the table every day.  As of late, and as most of us are acutely aware, we have been in the grips of an extreme cold for an extended period of time, single digit temps, wind chill factors bringing us below zero degrees (Fahrenheit!!) for several days in a row, and I’ve even taken 4 ‘snow days’ off of work myself and let me remind you, banks do not have snow days.  And then we still have to get through February. 

The real beauty of a State of the Union Address composed of only three words (1. It’s (contractions permissible) 2. Fricken (FCC will permit this on live tv?) 3. Cold), is that it’s absolutely factual and politically indisputable, and would not take over too much prime time TV.  There would be no rebuttal by the opposition (the Republicans, the Teabags), because it is what it is.  Most of North America is in the throes of the Polar Vortex, and we’re all feeling it.  It would be a uniting theme in a divided time.  (Do they air the State of the Union in Puerto Rico, Guam?)

As things will likely go, President Obama will probably not take my advice for a succinct and timely speech, as thus far, he’s taken none of my policy advice either, and he probably doesn’t even read this Blog.  I bet if George W. Bush read this blog he’d think to himself, “I didn’t know New York had Seven Boroughs”.  Well Godspeed, Barack.  I voted for you.  But only one time!

In many ways, the current State of the Seventh Borough, is as it would always be in January, and in other ways, life as we know it is changing irrevocably.   Most of my day remains the same: walk out of a house covered in icicles taller (longer?) than a small child (and I live with a small child, so this is an accurate measurement), walk as quickly as possible in the ice-slalom hills of Westchester to a commuter train, whose schedule has been severely whacked-out by the effect of extreme temps on metal equipment, ride that train over the East River, counting the number of studio-apartment sized ice floes float down the river, and off to work in an office where everyone has added a layer of polar fleece over the usual suit-and-tie ensemble. 

 January is typically our busiest and most harried month at work, wrapping up a December 31st fiscal year-end, and I’m glad it’s almost fully behind us.  This January was particularly challenging, as I got hooked on Pintrest, and by ‘hooked’ I mean, like in a full chemical dependence state of being.  It’s so good, it’s bad. 

And January has brought about the publicizing of other lovely news, as some of you know, we’re expecting a baby in July.  Obviously, I’ve known about this baby for some time, specifically since October 28th, when I had to ask my dental hygienist to hold off on the x-rays.  Now we’re out of the first trimester and so far, so good.  I’m definitely more relaxed about this pregnancy, except when it comes to not falling down the aforementioned ice-slalom hills of Westchester or receiving a blow to the head from a falling toddler-sized icicle (I broke them all off the front of the house and the next day they were back! Like pointy-white cockroaches, they multiply!).  When I was pregnant with Nick, I read What to Expect When You’re Expecting, hanging on to every word of that book.  This time around, I downloaded the book to my phone, but I’m skimming it like preparation for an open book test.  I also downloaded I Heart My Little A-holes, a short book by blogger ‘Baby Sideburns’ (that’s the author’s nom-de-plume for real), where she hysterically recounts ridiculous kid stuff, like going to the bathroom with an audience and 500 ways poop escapes from diapers.  Well, that’s where my mind is these days.  When I can find it.

Yes, this silly forgetfulness that accompanies pregnancy has fully set on, and as I’m trying to do my hectic fiscal year end, I’m dying.  It was a struggle.  Fortunately I’m a good list-maker.  When I can find a pen, or remember how to log on to my computer.  My mother assures me this is a fake symptom of pregnancy, and that I should not ‘get the vapors’.  But I think having kids 30 some-odd years ago, or maybe even 20 years ago when we weren’t such forced multi-taskers with 4,000 passwords and pins to remember, may have been slightly easier.  In that regard, at least. 

Now, more than ever, I’m trying to keep my stuff together at work.  One way to separate the humans from the cold-bloods at work is to tell them you are expecting a baby.  The humans are happy for you, the other moms may give you a hug, the guys will start letting you use the pantry/copier/elevator ahead of them.  The cold-bloods start acting weird around you, even though many of them have kids themselves.  They say things like ‘bad timing’ and ‘work-around’, not to my face, but 1. We are in an open floor plan office and 2. English is my first language.  I don’t fully hate on them, seven years ago I had to fill in for a colleague who went on maternity leave and I wasn’t too happy about it either.  I see both sides of the coin, but it’s OK to be human, to be kind.  Despite these cold remarks, our maternity leave policy lets me stay home for thirteen weeks, at full pay, with full benefits.  I appreciate that policy, knowing I have a more generous maternity leave than many others, even if it's a policy that falls far short of the generosity of policies offered in other Western nations.  But that is the state of our Union, when it comes to maternity leave.  That's our valuation, even if I just created another human and some of these guys can’t even match budgets to actuals.

 I’m playing the game of fully functioning employee even though I feel very forgetful, sometimes tired, and pretty nauseous.  I’ve managed to only throw up at work once.  And I made it to the restroom that time.  I’m proud of that.  But these are the victories that nobody sees.  At least not management, and those guys are never in the ladies room anyway.  At least they shouldn’t be, though some of them seemed curious when another female co-worker mentioned that the ladies room has a small lounge section which apparently the men’s room does not.  Sorry guys. 


But if any one guy deserves an apology, it’s my coffee wagon guy, Francisco.  I have had the worst aversions to some of my favorite foods, especially coffee.  I haven’t gone to the coffee wagon in like 4 weeks.  I did go for a while to get a tea and a roll, but now I walk past him each morning with my eyes lowered in mourning for my coffee, and my brief daily chit chat with a friendly guy subject to spending the polar vortex in a glass, baked goods-filled box.        

As if the cold wasn't enough, we took Nick to see his first movie in the theater: aptly named, "Frozen".  I loved this movie and was glad Nick was able to make it through 98% of the film.  I filled in the last 2% of the ending with the typical Disney schmaltz.  About 5 minutes in, Nick realized it was a Disney film, but that it would not be starring Buzz Lightyear nor involve any dinosaurs, so he spent the rest of the time fascinated by the glow of the emergency exit lights along the floor of our row of seats.  Bemused by lighting devices, he is his father's son. 

Stay warm, America!  We're only five days away from Superbowl Sunday, just across the iceberg-laden Hudson River in SnowJersey.  And we're only eight (8) weeks from the first day of Spring.  We can do it!  

Next time in the Seventh Borough: back to our Life in New York theme.  I'd like to draw attention to the rise of a very unique number-loving lady from Brooklyn, and no I'm not talking about myself.  Tonight, all the self-aggrandizing will take place in Washington, D.C.  Tonight, I'm going to bed.  Under no less than 7 blankets.

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