September 22, 2014

The Haps

Last week, we were laid up. All week. I don't know if it was inevitable post-travel sickness or if we fell victim to the dreaded New York fall allergy plagues; but whatever the reason, it went as sickness usually goes in our house. Iris has this insane ability to contract symptoms long before any of us feel the least bit poorly, yet she never misses a beat. I think being sick actually multiplies her energy into some superhuman force. A day or two later, Edith will get sniffly and cuddly and Trev will feel gross but be forced to go on with life as normal because, adulthood. Then at the very end, I will come down with a sickness that I try to ignore until the third day, and on the third day, I'm drained of every ounce of energy--RIGHT ABOUT THE TIME THAT IRIS IS FEELING BETTER. It's a very efficient system and doesn't cause even the smallest amount of domestic tension.

(Note: I almost pulled my hair out last week.)


We are mostly better now. And the air is perfectly autumnal and delightful--you know the kind! The sun is still warm and the air is cool, especially when the breeze blows through the drying trees, fluttering a few leaves to the ground. You can't leave home without a jacket, but you might not need it, and isn't that a nice surprise? I'm burning through my lavender and eucalyptus candle as fast as I can because I can feel it in the air: It's time to break out the cinnamon apple spice!




Let's see. Ah, yes. Traveling! Did you see on Instagram that my little brother got married? It was the most beautiful wedding, and completely surreal to watch Baby Josh marry the love of his life, Lacey, who is sweet in every way. It's crazy to think that Trevor and I were the same age when we married and aren't we such grown-ups now? (I guess I'm putting all the sarcasm in italics today?) We flew to Oklahoma City for the wedding, which aside from attending the wedding and seeing all our family, allowed us to visit with some old and dear college friends too! 

We came back to New York last week, and I was wondering how it was going to feel to fly back into the city after a few days on those western plains, playing in backyards and easily finding a Starbucks (because sometimes you just need a Starbucks). But it was wonderful. It felt like coming home to touchdown at LaGuardia and catch that perfect city skyline out the taxi window on the ride back to Brooklyn. I think summer was an excellent lull this year, and we were sort of suspended between two lives and willingly taking our time getting into things. Fall is rushing into the city with its freshness and its homeyness and it feels right to be settling in and finding our rhythm now.


Plus the [Gotham] streets are safe--I saw Batman just chilling in the park last week.

And finally, let us break down my latest New York dilemma. Here's the thing: Am I the only one who doesn't know what to do with her hands when walking down the sidewalk alone? I mean, generally I'm pushing the stroller. Or if I' wearing a jacket or pants with big pockets, cool. If I'm carrying a purse I can put one hand on the straps and, obviously, a coffee in the other, so that's good. But yesterday I left for a bit to do some writing, and I was wearing jeans, a button-down, and carrying my backpack. Turns out this creates a lot of problems. Like the jean pockets were too awkwardly small for my hands unless I wanted to look like I was posing for senior portraits. And if I put my hands around the backpack straps, it puckered my button-down inappropriately! Was I supposed to let my hands hang down at my sides? Is it weird that this does not feel natural to me? My arms are freaking pendulums, I tell you; they start swinging wider and wider as I go until I look like a gorilla, or, at the very least, one of those crazy speed walkers. Anyway, still working on a solution.

Happy week!

September 19, 2014

Details


The other day, I read an article in the New Yorker that was sort of a review of The Bone Clocks and also, mostly, a take on the decline of the novel. Books continue to live and thrive in their various print and electronic forms (there was also an article on how "keeping a library" is now considered "hoarding," but for another time, another time); but the author assessed (I think rightly) that the tones of novels are changing and that now the goal is to story tell in grand and fantastical fashion rather than sum up and make available the state of the human condition.

Perhaps this article struck me so because of where I am with my writing right now, which is essentially the middle of a project shift. As such, I began considering my favorite books and why they were my favorites, and I realized that the novels I love are those that resonate with me on an emotional level. They are maybe the books that I hesitate recommending because they mean so much to me, and I wonder how they could ever mean as much to another person.

I've had so many "why are we here?" moments lately, actually questioning the meaning of life and the existence of man. These are not odd questions in general; they are just odd questions for me. I never really saw the point in struggling to answer them, because how could we know when we found the right answer? The answers are only guesses, and they are guesses based on faith and personal beliefs and science and what you hear as you grow up; and who else has a list of questions that they are going to ask God once they get to the other side? Amirite?

And then one day, I thought something that I've thought before, but this time with a new clarity: The point of life is life. My mind wandered to a Creator making this world and the things and people in it, and doing it not for the point of the hereafter but for the point of now. He gave us a world of sights to be seen, sounds to be heard, tastes to be indulged, and pleasures to be shared. He made a bunch of us, a species, though we are all entirely different, and he told us to live together. I started wondering if, for far too long, I've been seeking out ways to story tell my life--ie, to focus on a big grandiose picture--rather than to exist in what are the real circumstances. Maybe it's a need to control, a desire to shut down the emotions I wish weren't there, a striving for expectations set out there in society by who knows who.

When something swirls around in my brain for awhile and I decide to write it down, I've now concluded that it is very rarely a big something, and more likely it's a quiet little thought--maybe, like those books, it only means something to me and could never hold the same weight for another. Maybe I'm closer to the little details than I realize, and I should reach out and touch each one, to feel it for what it is. Every once in awhile, I'll take a step back and observe the bigger pattern being woven, glance at how the smaller steps built up what is now the beginning of something. But mostly, I think I will do my best to stay up close and personal and in it. Maybe I'll never grasp the enormity of the whole, but I will know the components like the back of my hand. And to know a little glimpse so fully seems worthwhile to me.

September 16, 2014

Speed


New Yorkers love to go, go, go, so I have been told.

It's quite evident in the short time between one train leaving and another coming; in the way a stranger will stop to help you get up the steps but not to hear your heartfelt thanks; in the honk of a horn three cars back a millisecond after the light pops from red to green. I have learned to keep pace down the sidewalk even in heels or with a stroller, how to weave through those who refuse to do so. I have accepted the inevitability of less sleep since my kids won't slumber late into the morning but I want to stay up until 11 for the nightly news. (That's a lie. Trevor likes to watch the news. I don't.)

But what has been a sweet surprise is all of the time just lying around New York. There are pockets of it everywhere, a leisurely treasure to be discovered throughout the day. There's the time it takes to get anywhere so that the walk is as much the point as the destination (which is quite philosophical without even really thinking about it). There are books read and composed on the subway trains; moments stolen on park benches in between points A and B, coffees savored and friendships bonded on sidewalks connecting one neighborhood and the next.

A smile spread across my face in the back of a cab the other night, the windows down, the city flying by, and just a few minutes where I had nothing to do but to let someone else do the work. I didn't have to drive that car, just like I don't conduct the subway, or [anymore] have to navigate every walking path. From here to there becomes time to stop and smell the roses or to mull over a good thought or to make friends through passing smiles.

I didn't have to slow down to find all of this. I keep speeding up really. I just had to notice that it was there.

September 5, 2014

Greenport








A couple of weekends ago, we got it in our heads to go to the beach, as we do. But it was so windy and so freezing, that it really wasn't a workable plan, not to spend more time than it took to walk a few blocks' length bundled in sweaters at least. So we piled back in the car and we drove along the train tracks and through some fields and then by some strip malls and such until we reached a Target. And we bought jean jackets. And then some lunch at a weird cheap deli. Iris charmed the Dunkin Donuts guys while I ordered an iced coffee for the road and he gave her free donuts. He didn't even ask me if it was okay, but oh well. It made her day. These are the things you do in New York.

Then with full bellies and the sugar crash coming, we hummed some Jon Foreman and hit Highway 27 and drove and drove toward the east end. Trev had loose plans for stopping somewhere along the way, but the girls fell asleep for a good long while, so we kept driving and driving. We made for the North Fork and drooled over Suffolk County--vineyard after vineyard in between colonial style mansions and antique shops and crumbly churches and farm stands. New York feeds the two warring edges of my soul: the part that loves the biggest, bustliest city and the part that loves meadows--just green and windy--as far as the eye can see.

When the girls woke up, we found ourselves almost in Greenport and so we finished the journey. We stopped for a carousel ride and running barefoot on grass not littered with glass and dinner among sailboats and sunset views. We drove to the very end and waved to Connecticut and vowed to come back some time to take the ferry just for fun.

It made me realize just how much new territory we have to cover in this new spot of ours, how much there is to see, how many adventures there are to have. And when that day's adventure was done, we cranked some old Death Cab for Cutie and drove back in the dark, sparkling city lights calling us home.

September 4, 2014

Lightly


Why is it that we place such intense emphasis on "making a splash" and "being known" and "changing the world"?

There is a line in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (which is just an altogether really, really lovely film) that I love: "Beautiful things don't demand attention." And when I pondered that, meditated on it really, I realized: those I have found most beautiful tread quite lightly on this earth.

May the small differences we make and the hushed moments be enough to please us.