Commuter Musings

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I cried in a dentist’s office today. The office of a dentist I had never met before, so that will forever be his first impression of me, the frazzled, rain-dampened blonde slinging an equally rain-dampened blonde toddler before suddenly breaking down in a puddle of tears.

But I should probably back up. Because, if you know me, I like to think that it would surprise you to hear that the pursuit of dental hygiene would bring me to hysterics.

My morning started much earlier and several miles away from that fateful office. It started at 6 a.m. in my bed, as most mornings do since Vivi’s determined sleep regression. While not every morning starts quite so early, it’s usually between 6:00 and 6:30, and today was no exception. So she awoke and called me, I went and got her, and we both snuggled back in bed for a few more minutes of dozing. When I went back in my room to get my phone, Joey grumbled sleepily, “Your phone is bugging out.”

It’s rare to get a text quite so early, but this one was from our intended babysitter (who I had asked to watch Vivi while I went to the dentist that morning) telling me that her son was sick, and she didn’t want to infect all of us, so she couldn’t come over.

Not a big deal — kids get sick. The only bummer was that no one else I knew was available to step in. Okay, I thought, I guess we’re all going into Manhattan. That’s fine!

We got up around 7:00, and it was already clear that Vivi was having, well, a day. She screamed for milk, tried to refuse to say “amen” after our breakfast prayer (I waited her out and finally got a begrudging one before dishing out her eggs), and took off her pants ten minutes before we had to leave for no apparent reason.

Not a big deal! Toddlers, amiright? We started to pack up to leave.

Fortunately, I glanced out the window and saw that it was raining before we left. Still not a big deal! I decided to ditch the stroller and wear Vivi on my back (actually much more convenient for city travel anyway), grabbed an umbrella, and away we went. I honestly had no idea what I was going to do with Vivi at the appointment, but I just sort of hoped I could plunk her somewhere with YouTube videos for 20 minutes.

This is what I like to refer to as “the best part of our day.” A walk to the subway. In the rain. With a baby on my back. If that gives you any idea.

We got to the station as a train was arriving, but my Metrocard was empty, so we had to refill. As I listened to the sound of the train pulling away, I soothed myself with the fact that one comes every five minutes or so. We were in no rush! I had factored in cushion time because I’m me!

We finally got on a train and rode the 30 minutes to our stop with little incident. Vivi was intrigued by her fellow passengers and only started to fuss right before our stop. Phew. Is there anything worse than a screaming baby in your train car?

That right there? That’s what we like to call a cruel irony. Remember that.

I arrived at the Empire State Building, snapped the above photo because memories!, and approached the desk and told them who I was there to see.

“Oh, they moved out of the building three years ago.”

Cue: slow blink. “What?”

“It’s okay, though, I think they just moved right across the street.”

Okay, I thought with a sigh of relief. Call off the snipers.

“Oh, I’m sorry, they actually moved [insert address that will probably mean nothing to you but suffice to say it was SEVEN BLOCKS AWAY. IN THE RAIN.].”

My appointment was at 10:00. At this point, it was 9:55.

“RaaaAAAWWRRGGG!” I said. In my head.

Out loud, I said “thanks,” hitched up my baby backpack, and hit the street.

Seven blocks (did I mention it was raining?) later, I got to the building, rode up one floor in the elevator, and stepped into the lobby. I gave them my name and Groupon number (dental insurance is expensive, yo). The receptionist looked it up. No dice. She tried again. Nope. The owner came out and tried it. Nada.

“You had an appointment here?”

I show them my texts confirming, and he asks to see my Groupon.

“Oh, this isn’t us.”

Um, pardon?

A lot more conversation followed. Honestly, I can’t even explain what happened. As far as I understand it, there are TWO dental offices of the same name (but one has “Management” or something at the end?) in the SAME office space, but one of them (the one I wanted) is only open on Thursdays. Somehow, I had called the number of the other one. I should also mention that, last month, I also thought I had an appointment with this office and they couldn’t find it the week of. I’m now pretty convinced that my original appointment was with the right company (so I guess I missed it?), and that this whole office is a vortex where time, light, and sanity go to die.

Anyway, the point is, I had no appointment. After traveling for an hour on the subway and IN THE RAIN with a now-fussy baby strapped to my back. I couldn’t even make eye contact with the guy because it wasn’t his fault BUT WASN’T IT KIND OF?!?

He sensed my displeasure.

“Listen, you came all this way, what I can do is give you a cleaning here for the cost of the Groupon. It’s actually a better deal because our cleanings are more expensive. It’s probably a blessing in disguise [Note: He actually said those words. He was probably right, but it still made me want to kick him in the shin.] because I don’t think you would have been very happy with a cleaning with the other office.”

I took a deep breath and said fine, mentally balancing my checkbook with this unexpected expense factored in.

At this point, the correct office returned my phone call (I had tried to call during the “where are you located exactly” mix-up).

“Hi, I missed a call from this number?”

“Yeah, I had an appointment, and I’m at your office, but no one is here and…”

“Oh, no, we’re closed today.”

“I. Know. But I had an appointment and…”

“No, no, you couldn’t have. Tell me exactly what happened.”

“Um, I called and made an appointment, but they said that they can give me a cleaning here so I guess-”

“Oh, good, well then I guess it’s all fine, right?”

And then I reached through the phone and strangled her. In my head. Not in my head, I hung up because if you don’t have anything nice to say….

The guy came back. “Okay, so what are we doing?”

At this point, Vivi grabbed a handful of flyers and threw them on the floor and my throat started to tighten up.

“Well,” I said, picking up the flyers and trying to shove them back into their display, “I came all this way in the rain with my baby, so I guess we’re sticking with this new plan because if I don’t get my teeth cleaned I’m going to start crying.”

And then I burst into tears.

So, yeah, not my proudest. But, to their credit, the people in the office could NOT have been nicer to me. I was handed tissues and bottles of water, and the receptionist popped up telling me about her four grandchildren and how this was her lucky day because she was going to watch Vivi for me. I was quickly ushered into a cleaning room, where a nice (and obviously prepped for the crazy woman in her chair) dentist checked my x-rays and cleaned my teeth (“We’re going to use this water pick because it’s much faster so you guys can get out of here.”). The hygienist kept sneaking me tissues and asking me if I was okay. (OBVIOUSLY NOT BUT I’M WORKING ON IT.)

By the end of the cleaning, I felt better. Calmer. I actually really like getting my teeth cleaned, so that helped. And, hey, no cavities. So that’s something.

I went out to the desk, and Vivi was happily sitting on the receptionist’s lap, watching videos and eating pretzels (they had asked before giving them to her). Basically, her best day ever.

I apologized to everyone for acting like a crazy person (“Don’t worry! It’s just the rain!”) and thanked them profusely. Heck, I booked a six-month follow-up cleaning because I felt indebted to them. Then I quickly strapped Vivi back on and ran shame-faced from the office. (Back into the rain.)

And THAT is where this story should end. But, because I live where I live, I had to get back on the train. I got to the station just as my train was leaving (again)(because of course), so we waited on the platform for the next one to arrive. We got on…and made it two stops before Vivi started pitching the world’s most epic meltdown.

For the record, my kid doesn’t really do meltdowns. She’ll yell and throw a fit sometimes, but always for a pretty easily identifiable reason and almost always with a 2- to 3-minute time limit. I take no credit for this; she’s just a mostly good kid.

This was different. Vivi screamed and thrashed like she had a scorpion in her diaper, and, honestly, it freaked me out a little.

You know who else was freaked out? Everyone else trapped in the train car with the demon baby.

I took her out of the carrier. Still screaming. I offered her a snack. Still screaming. I offered her water. Still screaming. (And hitting me.) We were THANK GOODNESS on an express train home, but it still meant 15 solid minutes of tortured screaming. More than one person got up an moved away from us in the car, but the majority were too polite and just threw me sympathetic stares. Because is there anything worse than a screaming baby in your train car?

I didn’t freak out. I wrestled her thrashing and took off her jacket, not sure if she was just overheating or something. She kicked off a shoe, so I took the other one off too. Nothing helped.

We finally, finally made it to our stop. Vivi stopped crying as soon as we stepped out of the car, but by then it was obviously of little help. There was no where to set my stuff to get her back into the carrier, so we walked the 10-minutes home (in the RAIN) with my juggling the umbrella and my now still occasionally crying baby. I probably looked like a regretful kidnapper.

We finally got home. IT WAS ONLY 11:58 A.M. I called Joey to tell him the story and promptly started sobbing, which freaked Vivi out and made her start crying too.

For everyone’s sake, I pulled myself together.

So, yeah. That’s the end of the story. I’m letting Vivi watch TV while I type this out because catharsis. And, also, I’m kind of done for today? Plus, listening to her actually singing along with the songs (so cute!) is making me love her again, so I’ll take it. Anyway, I’m exhausted, still slightly damp, and pretty sure I’m never leaving this apartment again.

But dang are my teeth clean.

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I’ll admit I’m a little burnt out on New York these days. This upcoming spring, I’ll have lived here eight years. It’s two years shy of how long I said would live in New York, but about three years longer than I thought I would make it half a decade ago.

Obviously, there are things to love about this city. But — and I’m being honest here — the longer I am here, the harder it is for me to remember those things. Or maybe even care about those things.

Do I care about the access to any kind of shopping? I buy all my clothes in thrift stores/online thrift stores or through online sales anyway. Do I care about the shows and concerts? I see something on Broadway once in a blue moon now, and I am rarely willing to battle the crowds to do anything notable going on in the city. Do I care about the restaurants? Eating out is almost as rare as the Broadway shows.

I would miss Seamless legitimately. But, honestly, that just makes me kind of sad to say out loud. I’ll miss the thing that lets me be extra lazy and spend extra money.

It’s probably not surprising, but motherhood has made me roll my eyes a little bit harder at NYC. Because it is hard to be a mom here, folks.

It’s hard to take your baby out, because you are either schlepping them on your back in a carrier (which I honestly don’t mind because at least I can navigate easily, but it is super sweaty in the summer) or trying to maneuver a stroller down busy sidewalks, through a million doorways, or up and down subway steps. It’s hard to figure out things to do with your baby because everything baby-centric is expensive and everything non-baby-centric is…not baby friendly.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am sometimes when Vivi and I finish our errands (don’t even get me started on the difficulty of doing laundry in the city with a baby…) and I can look at her and say, “And now we don’t have to go anywhere for the rest of the day!”

I mean…that is not why I moved to New York.

So, yeah, I fantasize about motherhood in the burbs. I dream of a garage and in-home laundry and a real backyard and an accessible Target.

But I’m trying to be content and appreciate the good things (like parks within walking distance and a cute coffee shop on every corner to fuel mornings-after-sleepless-nights).

Other NYC mommas out there: Do you feel me? Do you have suggestions for making life a little easier?

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Actual footage.

Remember when I used to take the Long Island Rail Road a lot? And I whined about it. A lot.

It has been almost four years since I officially bid adieu to the rails, and, I’ll admit, even I started to wonder if maybe I hadn’t been the eence bit of a drama queen.

I mean, it’s just a train through Long Island. How bad could it actually be?

And then, last week, I had to take it again after over a year of abstaining.

And, you guys? I think it actually got worse.

Granted, my train home took off at 11:30, so, really, what was I expecting? But, here’s the thing: I expect the drunk train. I expect a little rowdiness.

What I don’t expect? To find myself in a full-on frat rager before it’s even midnight.

For the entire 30-minute ride I shared with this crowd, it was non-stop screaming, seat-hopping, and literal chanting. Not like, monks-finding-inner-peace chanting. Like, THIS. IS. CHAN. TING. (*clap clap clap clap clap*) And the lyrics were, shall we say, not fit to print.

It was, in a word, unpleasant.

At one point, the conductor passed through to clip tickets and whispered to the guy across the aisle and me that “they might not notice you if you stay quiet.” It was that bad.

The good news is that they got off a few stops before me, so at least part of my ride was relatively peaceful. Even so, I think I can officially scratch “am I a drama queen?” off my list of concerns.

Typical.

Typical.

When you find yourself pregnant in a big city, you have a number of initial concerns:

How will I find the right doctor with so many options?
Can I fit a baby in my current apartment?
Ewww is that a condom on the ground of my neighborhood playground??

And, of course, the most popular and pressing:

Is anyone ever going to offer me a seat on public transportation?

That last one is especially curiosity-inducing because even women who aren’t pregnant usually want to know. I get asked all the time what the response has been, and I’m actually happy to report that I get offered a seat a lot more often than I thought I would.

But that does NOT mean I always get offered a seat. No, ma’am, it does not.

Because I am a woman of the people, I thought I’d put together a little list of who will (and who will not) generally offer a pregnant woman a seat on the subway (or bus or train or whatever public transport you prefer). That way, if you ever get knocked up, you’ll know who to stand next to whilst overacting back aches and overemphasizing your belly. Hypothetically.

You probably WILL get a seat from…young professional-looking women.
Gals in the 20-30 range who look like they’re commuting to or from work are usually your best bet. For one, they tend to not be as consumed in their phones as their teen counterparts, but they’re not so far off from the life stage of pregnancy themselves that they can’t sympathize. (If they’ve had a kid themselves, they can definitely feel you on your swollen feet and tired body.) The solidarity I feel with these ladies is actually a sweet moment in a city known for it’s selfishness. Props to women who support (and give seats to pregnant) women!

That being said…

You probably WON’T get a seat from…women who don’t like children and/or women over 40.
I know, I know, “women who don’t like kids” is hard group to describe and spot. But you’ll know them the second they glance at your swollen belly and then wrinkle their nose before deliberately avoiding your gaze. I mean, they didn’t get you pregnant. Why is this their problem? As for my middle-aged ladies…I can’t explain it. Maybe they also don’t like kids, maybe they’re just tired. But whatever the reason, they tend to hold their peace and their seat. Go with God. (Or something.)

You probably WILL get a seat from…old men.
And you will struggle with whether or not to take the seat. Because this is the type of person you would normally have given up a seat to. But if you’re really dead tired and a wrinkly old man struggles to his feet the second he sees your rotund-ness, you will probably take this dying breed of gentleman up on his offer (after thanking him profusely, of course).

You probably WON’T get a seat from…men over 30 in business suits (especially not if they’re over 40).
I hate to generalize on the FiDi bro crowd, but business men are notoriously too busy and important to give up their precious subway seat. The kicker is that they will stare at your belly for a few minute, then make fleeting eye contact before quickly looking away and going back to pretending to be asleep or answering emails on their smart phones. (But I know which stations have wifi, pal. You’re not fooling anyone.) You just let me know the next time your business deal results in the creation of life, pumpkin, and then we’ll compare notes as to who had a tougher day, k?

You MIGHT get a seat from…men in their 20s and early 30s who aren’t wearing suits.
This group really is a toss-up. The issue most of the time is that they rarely look up from their phones to even notice you standing there growing a human in your belly. I also like to give them the benefit of the doubt that it has been PUMMELED into their brain to never assume a lady is pregnant unless she actually tells you so, and they’re worried about possibly offending you. So, a lot of the time, they stay seated. It also has to be said that they’re much more likely to offer a seat if they’re not white. Sorry, white dudes, y’all will sit there staring at my stomach — fascinated — for the entirety of the ride without even pretending to get up. And we both know that I know that you know.

You definitely WON’T get a seat from…teenagers.
Chivalry actually is dead amongst the sub-twenties set. You could literally go into labor in front of them, and they’d probably just pull out their phone to capture the moment on SnapChat while shouting, “OMG GROSSSSSS.” Teenagers. Ugh.

Now, obviously this is based entirely on anecdotal experience. So tell me: If you’ve been pregnant, who did you find was more or less likely to give you a seat? I’d actually love to hear stories of subway heroes who broke the stereotype!

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You guys. Today is my last day of taking the LIRR to work.

My friend James told me recently that the railroad must be mad at me because of how many issues there have been this month. Raised fees, derailed and delayed trains, equipment trouble and overcrowding — we’ve seen a little bit of everything in the last few weeks.

Well, good riddance, amiright?

We’ll start moving in today, but I actually have a few pictures to share that Joey took when he stopped in yesterday. Fair warning, I’m a little disappointed that they managed to make a completely gutted and renovated apartment look exactly like it would look if it had been set up over a decade ago. (Ugh…the bathroom tile. The cabinet finishes.) But I know I’m jut being a whiner. It’s all shiny and new and whatever. Here ya go:

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So there you have it. I’ll, of course, post more pictures once we get it more set up. (And after I’ve hidden that dang pink tile I can’t seem to escape behind a shower curtain.)

Assuming I survive the moving process, see ya Monday!

It has been a pretty busy 2013 so far.

In the last two weeks, I’ve been to California, Utah, Massachusetts, and Nevada. My body has no idea what time it is.

I haven’t been getting nearly as much sleep as I need and like to get, but it has been pretty fun. I mean, I got to spend time with some of my favorite people on the planet.

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So I might be exhausted, but I have some pretty great memories now. Sounds like a pretty solid win-some-lose-some situation to me.

Anyway, I have to admit I’m glad I’ll be staying put for a while now. With our (rapidly) approaching move, I have a lot to do before March.

And because we all know nothing keeps my brain more organized than making a comprehensive list, here’s everything Joey and I need to get accomplished before mid-March:

1. Sell the china cabinet.

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You know. The one I never actually got around to painting. Though it’s a solid piece of furniture and has provided us with tons of storage space, this mammoth piece of furniture will not be joining us in Brooklyn. Honestly, I doubt we could even get it into an apartment that wasn’t on ground level. It’s really heavy. Plus, we most likely won’t have a spacious dining area like we have now to fit it in.

So if you live in Long Island and want it, let me know and we’ll work something out.

2. File our taxes.

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That’s a sneak peek of a future post tentatively titled “how I organized and labeled everything paper-related in my life.”

But seriously. I want to get this taken care of this month. I went through all our files a couple of weeks ago and organized everything into labeled binders, all of our W-2s have arrived, as the sooner we get it taken care of the sooner we can (hopefully) get our refund. Which would be helpful in the whole paying-our-next-apartment’s-security-deposit thing.

Plus it’s just a good feeling when you finally take care of your taxes an don’t have it hanging over your head anymore.

3. Goodwill trip.

I still have those giant bags of clothes to drop off, and I also want to go through our kitchen supplies and see if there’s anything we really don’t use. (Remember that corner cabinet of doom of stuff I mentioned? Yeah, that has yet to be dealt with.)

4. Pack everything.

This requires procuring boxes, bubble wrap, tape, and at least a couple weekends of effort. Though, to be totally honest, the packing-up part doesn’t stress me out nearly much as the moving-stuff part. Anyone who wants to help with that I will gladly reward with food and booze. Just sayin’.

5-10. Quit our current gym, get our mail forwarded, update our Internet and cable, update our address on file at work and anywhere else it exists.

All that clerical stuff. Party.

11. Oh yeah, and, you know, actually find our next apartment.

Thinking about this stresses me out too. I mean, I’ve been looking online for a while, so in general I feel like I have a good grasp on what we’re looking for. But there is a bit of stress in the hunt for a New York apartment. The good ones go fast. But millions of people have done it, right? We’ll figure it out.

I’m sure I’m forgetting a million other details, but those are the big ones so far. It makes me feel better to know I’ve moved quite a bit in the last five years, so I’m pretty good at this, but the experience also comes with the knowledge of what a hassle it is.

Oh well. I’m excited for the fun parts (living in Brooklyn, having a new apartment to set up, no more LIRR), so I’m trying to keep those things in the forefront of my mind.

Anyway. For today, I’m just focusing on keeping awake.