Saturday, January 31, 2015

The (Second Annual) State of the Borough

My Fellow Borough Dwellers, it’s been a long time. 

Seven months have passed since the last publication of the Seventh Borough News, which covered the fast approaching birth of my daughter, and said child has been keeping me busy.  It’s not so much that two children take up twice as much time as one child does, even if you had 19 children, you still only have 24 hours in your day.  But it’s the sheer exhaustion of managing a two-pronged front, the shifting between sweet, slow baby-speed, and the zip-zip-zip of a fully mobile, fully opinionated 2.5 year-old, each day that will wipe out even the smallest shred of creativity.  And then there is the other reason why people sometimes just drop off the face of the Earth, if you will: being in love.  I’ve been smitten with this little baby girl and all her baby-isms and tiny baby feet and sweet coos.  She’s easy to love, she’s an affectionate soul and I think she will grow up to be a warm-fuzzy sweetheart.  Or I’m totally wrong.  Not that I don’t love the rest of my family very much, but as I write this, my four-legged Rita is walking all over this keyboard and the now three-year-old is as demanding as a diva and is always willing to negotiate for one more TV show or one more bedtime story.   Nick’s negotiations are always one-sided so I’m not even sure that counts as a negotiation.   It’s a battle of dictators.  Mommy always wins in the end, but at what cost?

During these last seven months of exhaustion, I’ve written partially finished posts, jotted down notes, collected ‘souvenirs’ for blog input and done some research as needed, even though no entry has been published.  Though it may seem like radio silence on one end, I’ve really been trying to pull things together on my end.  A few weeks ago, a friend of mine quoted from one of my posts verbatim and I admit, I freaked out.  It made me nervous not because a friend read something I wrote, but as this stuff is basically non-fiction, it’s floating out there in the World Wide Web and I feel I end up with drafts that have been censoring everything out to the point where there is no story.  Like one big sheet of paper filled with redacted, blacked-out text, the more sanitized the blog, the more boring it is.  It’s a balance.  I’m working on it.  Also, that fact that my friend quoted my post made me think that people actually read this rag.  I mean read it and remember it months later.  I feel as though my approach to writing this blog is like that phrase on every piece of Home Goods wall décor “Dance like no one’s watching, Sing like no one’s listening, Love like you’ve never been hurt…” and then the lights came on and I realized people (or at least one person) was/were watching.  They were listening.  I was kind of shocked.  This is not a #humblebrag.  This is a momentous day for a shy girl. 

That being said, let’s aim high.  The Seventh Borough News welcomes you to join our Facebook site (group site).  Posts will still be originated on Blogspot, but also posted through Facebook, where we can post photos more easily.  The Facebook page will host three categories of blogging: The Seventh Borough News (it is non-fiction, even if it’s not cutting-edge journalism); Lakeview Gardens, will cover posts about gardening, beginning in the spring; and The Focus, for photos and photo editing.

That’s the Seventh Borough’s agenda for 2015, photos and social media, in other words, stuff ten year-olds can manage.  Two year-olds can handle Netflix; I’ve witnessed that first-hand.  It’s brand management, of sorts.  Something I’ve only studied and read about, and now we’ll try to put it into practice. 

Now that our agenda is set, let’s discuss the State of The Borough.  Last year I published our first State of The Borough, while actually watching the State of the Union on TV.  This year, as I was finally getting posts wrapped up, I thought I’d refresh the blog with the State of The Borough on the same day as the State of the Union, which of course, in my mind was to take place next Tuesday, so I’m late.  Getting messed with by the gub’ment.  What else is new?  This year I did watch the State of the Union, and by watch, I mean the TV was on for about 15 minutes and I was awake for about 6 of those minutes, but in that short amount of time, I noted two things: the Speaker of the House is seriously, seriously orange, either the camera adds a few shades of apricot to Mr. Boehner, or he needs to swap districts with the New Jersey representation if he is such a serious champion of fake tanning.  And secondly, the President chooses this year to highlight our collective lack of maternity leave.  Um, Barack, my 2014 State of the Borough was all over that topic when I was 16 weeks pregnant last January.   7th Boro: 1, POTUS: 0. 

But really, what’s the State of Borough number 7 in 2015?  Let me take you through a (sort of) typical outer-borough day:

Wake up at 4:30, go back to bed. Wake up at 5:15, Rob’s leaving at 6 for a week-long business trip.  Put on the news.  News says two planes were evacuated at JFK due to a bomb threat.  Rob’s flying out of JFK, fantastic!  Feed baby, say good bye to husband, get dressed, get Nick out of bed, ‘negotiate’ how much Scooby Doo he can watch before getting dressed.  ‘Negotiate’ with baby gate at top of stairs.  Leave kids alone in the house for 10 seconds to start the car and warm it up.  Freak out about leaving kids alone in the house for 10 seconds.  Understand an automatic car starter is not a bad idea if you park in a driveway.  Note to self: next car = automatic car starter.  Return to house, realized kids made it through ten seconds, Rita was ‘babysitting’.  Cat = babysitting = Cat snoozing in bouncy seat.  Make coffee, put coffee in thermos, put thermos in handbag.  Message contractor.  Contractor replies he will come and fix the hole in my kitchen ceiling due to bathroom leak last Wednesday.  Leave front door unlocked for contractor.  Leave house, ‘fake lock’ the door, yes, motion as if locking the door, just in case any neighbors would willingly come out of their house in 20 degree weather and spy on my front door.  That kind of paranoid.  Yes, I’m from Brooklyn.  Put two children in five-point harness car seats.  2 x 5 = 10 clicks.  Kids snug, back out of driveway, go to day care.  Small chitchat with daycare peeps.  Have a nice day, kiss, kiss, mommy loves.  Come back home, park car, eyeball my ‘fake locked’ door, decide everything looks ok, hustle to train station, get on 8:05, secure seat on train, take coffee thermos out of purse, use inside voice to tell coffee how much I love it.  Read Wall Street Journal, there’s Orange John on the cover of the State of the Union issue. 

Leave Grand Central, walk up Park Avenue, “take it all in”, I tell myself, next week we’ll be in Queens.  Feel depressed, play Bon Jovi on iPod, feel less depressed.  Find my breakfast wagon man, buy roll and second coffee, it’s already a long day and it’s not yet 9 AM.  Notice that my coffee wagon, once run entirely by Francisco and covered in Italian flags, has merged with Uncle Gussy’s Greek food truck and now sports the flags of both Greece and Italy and a “Je Suis Charlie” poster.  Who will be next?

Prepare for a day of meetings.  Step out of meeting for cell phone call. Contractor calls me that he set off house alarm and I had to give him the password.  Freak out that despite all my efforts in ‘fake locking’ the door, now the alarm will be disabled during the course of this repair work.  Note to self: change the password on the house alarm.  Wonder if the police will be dispatched to my house. Go back to meeting and watch phone like a hawk for a call from the cops and/or the alarm company.  Nothing.  Focus on meeting.   Leave meeting.  Co-worker approaches me on a question about a change in methodology, mid-sentence, co-worker hears there are cake pops in the pantry and runs out to get one.  Co-worker comes back about 10 minutes later to finish discussion.  I’m distracted by the crumbs on his face.  Get a cake pop later, it wasn’t that good.   Text message from husband:  Plane landed safely.  Excellent.

Break for lunch; make some chitchat with other ladies in the pantry, including the Bjork lady.  Yes, a woman who works on my floor (but not in my department) looks just like Bjork.  I don’t know her name, but she is notorious for leaving her food in the microwave long after its finished cooking.   Note to self: if you are going to be violating lunchroom etiquette on a regular basis, it’s best to not resemble a famous person, so people can’t identify you so easily.  Go back to desk, eat food, check out stuff on my phone, including but not limited to: photos of “OPB” (Other People’s Babies), adorable, fuzzy cats, seven hundred varieties of slow-cooker chili on Pinterest,   not totally sure what Zulilly sells, NKOTB at MSG, what!!!!

Answer some emails, watch the Euro tank, borrow $95,000,000, begin hoarding office supplies in anticipation of our move to Long Island City.  Surely there are no orange highlighters in Queens.  Wire $150,000,000 from a subsidiary to its parent, get a cup of tea, go to afternoon meetings, notice conference room table is covered in cake pop crumbs.  Assume the usual suspects.  Pay attention in meeting.  Stop paying attention and check phone that the cops haven’t arrested my contractor (I need him to fix the leak in the bathroom; I’ve been taking 90 second showers to avoid a re-leak and 90-second showers SUCK!). 

Done with meetings, check some emails, check phone, no emergencies from contractor, no emergencies from day care, no emergencies from traveling husband, no emergencies from my mom.   Work on PowerPoint presentation.  One cubicle mate is playing Z100.  One cubicle mate is playing ‘80s radio.  Love both, just not at the same time.   Leave work and walk to Grand Central.  Get to day care, pick kids up.  Get a talking to because Nick’s been calling everyone a poopie head at day care.  Totally take day care’s side that calling people a poopie head is wrong.  Meanwhile, think poopie head is not really that bad in the grand scheme of things, but maybe when you are 3, it’s pretty bad.  Say ‘hi’ to other girl at day care, little does she know she is my unofficial daughter-in-law because Nick has categorized her as one of his wives.  Do not ask 3 year-old why he has a ‘wife’ or how many ‘wives’ he has.  Little girl speaks with a British accent because she’s a marathon watcher of Peppa Pig.  Little girl tells me her daddy is on holiday.  Note to self: good he’s out of town lest he find out we’ve become in-laws somehow.  Reinforce that poopie head is not a nice word.  At home, Nick’s job is to get the mail out of the mail box; he says there was no mail the other day (Rev. Martin Luther King Day).  I say yes, that’s true, it was a holiday.  Nick asks if yesterday was Christmas.  I say no, it was Martin Luther King Day.  Realize I have no idea where to begin to explain to a three year-old the significance of Martin Luther King Day.  Note to self: figure that out before the next Martin Luther King Day.  Make baby a bottle, can’t wait for baby to talk as much as Nick does.  On second thought, maybe I can.  Position baby so that I can smell her head as I feed her.  Ask Nick what he would like for dinner, given that the kitchen is totally out of commission.  Nick:  Fruit Snacks.  Me: Umm, no, try again.

Get the shorties to bed.  2 kids x 2-legged fleece feety pajamas = 4 little legs bundled for bed.  Take 90-second shower, put on pj’s, open fridge, find glass of wine I poured over the weekend and never had time to drink.  Ice cupcakes for day-care birthday party, secure location to hide cupcakes from cat over night.  Where is cat?  Lapping up my wine.  Cheers!


Truth is, none of this is very exciting. We’re just a family of four trying to make it to the weekend, and I’m just a Borough dweller trying to report the humor in everyday life.  That is the state of our union, of our borough.  Just another buzz of the alarm clock, another train to catch, another (five hundred thousand) cups of coffee to drink, another conference call, another quarter end, another swipe on the metrocard, one more day care pickup, a few more baby cuddles, a few more bedtime stories, and one more kiss good night. 

We’re back in business in the Seventh Borough.

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