I missed the 4th of July fireworks last year because I was too busy having a wonderful meal with the man I was falling in love with, followed by an evening walk under the Brooklyn bridge.  The heat was oppressive, but the East River brought a faint breeze and the artificial starlight of an urban horizon.

This year, we missed the 4th of July fireworks because we were exhausted from a long day of sun & fun with a 6-week-old baby, and because the mosquitoes were making a meal of us all.  Maybe we’ll catch them next year.

I’ve spent the last year falling in love – first with my now-husband, and then with my son.  There are no signs that this will ever stop, and I’m so grateful.

Two Nights in May – the Birth of Samuel Alaric

Writing this has taken a while, since I’ve spent most of my time lately with a toddler-sized infant on the boob and/or trying to sleep when he lets me. Breastfeeding is amazing, but I also feel more than a little chained to his newborn schedule-defying cluster feedings. But that is another post. As a pregnant pre-mom I wanted to hear every gritty detail about my friends’ births, and now every mom I know has been asking me the details of how ours went, so this is partly for them and partly a way for me to organize my thoughts about our birth and its divergence from our “plan”. (note: the more I’ve learned about birth, the more I think “birth plan” is a well-intended oxymoron) (another note: this is a very long story. be forewarned.)
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7-month recap.

If anyone had told me a year ago where I’d be right now, I would have laughed.

My friend Kenny asked me if my life was usually this chaotic, and I said “I don’t think so.” His response was “that’s too bad, because it means you don’t have the mechanisms to cope with all the chaos now,” which sounds reasonable but if that’s the case, why aren’t I freaking out? In retrospect, has my life been perpetually chaotic? I would still guess that the answer is closer to ‘no’ than ‘yes,’ but I’ve had my share of flux too – both expected and unexpected, good and bad. In any case, Kenny was both right and wrong. Yes, major life changes require serious coping/adjustment skills. But no, this change is not particularly chaotic – at least, not chaotic in a negative sense.

The past 12 months have brought me some of the biggest life changes a person can know. Since last January I’ve moved across three states (CA->NY->VT), found true love (the truest), worked an amazing job only to be unemployed for the first time since college, and am expecting a new baby. Any one of those things on its own could have rocked (nay, capsized) the boat pretty hard, but somehow these have been the easiest choices of my life. When the job in New York came along, I was ready for a new challenge and a change, but the many awesome people there made it an easy, comfortable move. When I met my fiance, I knew right away that it was a sure thing, and we fell readily into the most caring, honest relationship of my life. Finding out about the baby-to-be was a little more terrifying, but I think the prospect of parenthood should always be a little bit terrifying. The decision to make the move to be a family, together, in a faraway but beautiful part of Vermont, came naturally. We entertained other options and played devil’s advocate, but in my heart I knew from the start that it would be this way, and that was okay.

This is not to say that the move has been 100% flowers and butterflies. The Vermont winter is more beautiful and less challenging than I expected, but moving unemployed to a small, rural town far from anything – that’s not entirely easy. The first week was a jolt, but with projects and part-time work lined up, it gets better every day. And waking up every day next to your favorite person in the world, knowing that you’re embarking on the most rewarding challenge of your life together? Wonderful.

I don’t know whether I was wrong in my response to Kenny, or if he was wrong in assuming I’d need an advanced degree in chaos to maneuver (manoeuvre?) the coming months. In either case, it’s been the most surprising and beautiful year to date – a trend that I expect to continue.

A meal worth sharing

This was delightful:

. Summer salad of watercress & roasted beets served over a bed of creamy chevre with a light vinaigrette

. Tuna carpaccio with shaved fennel, olive tapenade & chervil

. Pan-seared red snapper served with fresh fava beans

. Roasted game hen stuffed with duck sausage, served on a bed of roasted carrots, onions, & porcini mushrooms, garnished with shaved black summer truffle.

. Grand Marnier souffle prepared a la perfection: delicate & creamy, rich & piping hot.

I owe this one to Minetta Tavern, and to my dad, who makes every meal shared with him a more enjoyable one!  I wish he could visit every weekend (although not sure if I could eat like this that often … OK yes I could, twist my arm).

Personal Shoppery

A nice thing about renting a furnished apartment: not having to buy furniture, obviously.  This was super-convenient and made it easy to start settling into the house right away upon bringing my suitcases up and my boxes out of the storage unit.  It also made the move a fraction of the potential cost, since buying an apartment-ful of furniture is expensive.  Again, obviously!  These benefits are so obvious that I overlooked a couple of obvious facts: that I like shopping and that furniture is fun to pick out.  Dang.

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The Paradox of Poop and the Urban Dog

When I spent some time in France in my early 20s, the ever-presence of dog poop on city sidewalks never ceased to amaze me.  This was worst in Paris, where population is dense and there’s less green space for four-legged poopers, but I noticed it even in smaller towns like Perpignan (where I had the (mis)fortune of being stuck for over a month).  It’s probably not fair to pin this on the French — perhaps Europeans at large are more averse to picking up their animals’ poop than we are in the US.  Or is it even fair to compare the whole of the US to Europe?  Growing up in the Bay Area, and then later being a dog owner in Berkeley, I felt I had no reasonable alternative but to pick up my dog’s poop.  Not doing so would be an aggressive violation of Berkeley social norms, and I couldn’t see any way to leave the turds there without preparing a batshit-crazy-don’t-mess-with-me response for any concerned citizens who would undoubtedly chide me for leaving a trail of poop. Continue reading

A movie review.

Sex & the City, II.

Sucks in the City, Ew.

This may not be surprising to anyone, as it was not terribly surprising to myself, but I was disappointed.  I’ve enjoyed the TV show in the past, and even moderately enjoyed the first film, but this one sank to new lows.  Gone is any wry cleverness, any development of characters or plot.  I will not even linger on this poorly planned review of an even more poorly executed “film”.  Farewell.

A Prairie Dog Companion

Apartment hunting.

It takes just those two words for my heart rate to go up and a sickly sweat to break out on my forehead.  Apartment hunting in New York?  Horrible.  Disgusting.  Adventurous?  Terrifying.  Wonderful.  Awful.  All of those things.

I spent some time in NY before making my actual move out east, which was helpful to get a sense of the lay of the land: employment, neighborhoods, restaurants, bars, lifestyle.  I had some vague ideas about where I wanted to live and what kind of space I hoped to find, but it was pretty idealistic.  “Something like my Berkeley apartment, but maybe with an outdoor space for the dog.  With a garden.  Yeah.”  If I couldn’t afford that kind of space in Berkeley, there was no way I’d be able to afford it in New York on the same salary, but hey – a girl can dream.  Needless to say, these hopes were soon crushed by the brutal reality of NY Craigslist and the perils of apartment hunting.  First of all, the rents are insane.  There are neighborhoods that are more affordable, but they’re mostly out of the way or have higher crime & drug rates.  There are, of course, those rare rent-controlled finds, but you’re not getting one of those spots unless you know somebody who knows somebody.  Or, unless you’re willing to pay a broker a paycheck or two to find it for you.  Aside from rents, many of the people renting/sharing/posting are also viably insane.  Craigslist is the most convenient, but also most abhorrent, way to find a place out there. Continue reading