There are glimpses of moments when I forget and feel like nothing’s happened. Maybe it was a dream. That’s far from true, of course, but it’s a reminder that one day that feeling will become more the norm than the exception. I’ve come out of hiding, even working in an office a few days a week (more on that later) and I don’t mind crowds because I can be anonymous, but the truth is I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. Is it common to feel this?
And then there’s this: this seemingly random bubble event in the middle of the day in Union Square. It’s like every kid’s (and maybe some adults) dream to be surrounded by thousands of floating iridescent bubbles. They’re launched from wands by a force of air, but drift lightly until suddenly, they’re gone.
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And the weekend came out blazing, all sunshine and warmth and intense rays of heat. At the beach today, I lathered everyone up with sunscreen, but in a senior moment of absentmindedness forgot to put any on myself, partly because I was stationed under the beach umbrella the whole time and wasn’t really thinking. So right now my legs are pink and the kind of itchy prickliness that you get when you’ve gotten too much sun–a feeling that I’ve forgotten, to be honest, since we’re usually so meticulous about sunscreen.
But it was a pretty glorious, care free weekend of no work and eyes off the computer with multiple outings, made possible by working double time during the week to meet deadlines so that I can have a proper long weekend. Mark did, of course, work the market on Sunday, but when you have a good day and things sell out like limeade and fudgesicles, it makes working the weekend quite worth it.
Our neighborhood was quiet and eerily empty with plenty of empty parking spots dotting the streets (this is how you can tell when the neighborhood goes away on a holiday weekend–by the abundance of street parking), but as soon as we got off the bus to Brooklyn Bridge Park to go visit Mark at the Flea, we were hit with waves of crowds taking in the views of Manhattan across the East River and waiting on lines at various food booths. We were just talking the other day about how eating at outdoor markets is such a “thing” now, a social activity like shopping or going to see a show with your friends. It didn’t really exist before on this scale, did it? I mean there were always food at street fairs and festivals and even some farmer’s markets and those come close I suppose, but they aren’t a permanent fixture like Smorgasburg or as massive an operation–not to mention all the small businesses that it’s incubated. It certainly has changed the food culture of the city from all angles.
On the car ride to the beach this morning, I asked the girls whether or not they thought the year was flying by too fast. I know that time moves differently when you’re young, and as expected they couldn’t really grasp what I was getting at, but they did agree that the winter felt long. It feels like summer already even though the solstice is still a few weeks away. Memorial Day weekend has a way of fooling you like that, so much so that it almost feels weird to wake up the next day to normal school day routines of packing lunches and walking out the door at 8:20 in the morning with backpacks. But I know that the next few weeks will go by in a blink and before we know it, summer will be here for real.
P.S. Our annual Father’s Day gift boxes are now for sale.
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I’ll admit I’ve been distracted lately. Although I have always been a fierce multi-tasker, I have a strong desire to consolidate and simplify things in my work life. Dividing my time between the business and my freelance design work has always been a juggle, but one that I haven’t minded. In fact, I relish having multiple things on my plate and having my hands in a couple of different projects. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something and exercising my brain, but I know that this thinking can be flawed. The truth is, lately I’m feeling like all I’m doing is juggling. I’ve been consistently working with 6-7 clients for the past year, all at the same time and often on the same days. The work has been all over the place too – print pieces, websites, logos, and touch screen devices; all day I switch gears from one client to the next. Needless to say, my work life has been crazy.
So I’ve been walking. Sometimes it’s at the expense of time spent working towards deadlines, which I’ll just make up later in the evening after the kids have gone to bed. I’ll walk around the city for miles, sometimes with friends, but often alone. Walking through neighborhoods that were once so familiar to me, but have changed so much that they are only ghosts of my past; seeking out quiet spots where I can see the horizon, but also seeking out loud and textured sidewalks as well. It’s oddly thrilling to discover a street that I’ve never walked before, not in all my years here. The city sometimes still holds surprises and I suppose that’s what keeps things fresh when it’s easy to just get jaded.
I was thinking about a project that never manifested earlier this year, one that just went away. There are always a few of those that seem to disappear without any warning or reason. While I should have been disappointed (and I was, for a bit), I’ve come to be thankful that it never came to be because it was like a little gift of time. We could always use more work and more money, could we not? But sometimes it takes things beyond our control to force us see that maybe we should have said no in the first place anyway.
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You wouldn’t be able to tell from these photos, but the Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden this year was all festival and hardly any flowers, not like in years past when the sky looked like it was raining down petals from clouds of pink blooms. So the crowds flocked around the few trees that did have blossoms, whipping out cameras and posing next to any branch that had flowers. So many cameras and phones, so much posing. What a funny world we live in.
April’s almost over, but what a month. All good things, interesting things. Things that I didn’t expect, things that I didn’t know I even wanted, things that made me really think. And the month just flew by and just like that we are almost into May. But Spring has a way of giving you a new perspective on life, even if it’s only because we are spending more time outside. How good does it feel to spread a blanket out on grass and feel the sun? Made me realize that I was in a dark place for a long time.
And sometimes all it takes are a few good talks and walk with friends to make you realize that you are not so alone after all, that sometimes we create things in our heads that don’t really exist. I may have just turned 44, but hey, I’m still learning.
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An afternoon at the Whitney Museum on a weekend when there are sketching tours and open studios for kids on their calendar is a great way to spend a Saturday in the city. Admittedly, the girls usually groan when I announce that we’re going to an art museum, but they always declare it a fun day after the fact. Give them an activity booklet and a pencil and they make it their mission to fill out all the pages and find the relevant artwork to each activity. They’re tireless, and their love for crafting is tireless too. You all know by now that I’m not a crafter, but I admit I may have been picked up a piece of yarn and a pipe cleaner or two that afternoon (though the other day at my friend’s house I absentmindedly starting playing around with these striped pipe cleaners while we talked and made something of a sculptural piece with them. But I wouldn’t call that crafting either. I was fidgeting, and there is a difference).
I love how so many museums in the city organize activities and special tours for kids to get them engaged in the art. Kids under 18 have free admission too which makes it easier for a family to spend the day at the museum. As funding gets cut in NYC publics, art education is sadly one of the first things to go unless you have a PTA that has the fund-raising skills and resources to reinstate those enrichment classes, but unfortunately not every school is able to do this. I’d love to think that we benefit from having world class museums in the city that we live in, and as parents we can help supplement arts education for our kids, but the reality is that we probably don’t get to museums enough.
Now, the girls are old enough that we are paying subway fare for the 10 year old, though oddly enough paying for subway fare is determined by height and not by age which kind of sucks for families with tall kids. We’ve been getting away with the girls ducking under the turnstiles for a long time and bus drivers will still let the kids go on for free, but Mia is just too tall to be doing the ducking thing. This means that at some point it will cost us 20 dollars at the current fare for a family of 4 to take a round trip ride on the subway, and $30 if we need to make an additional stop and ride the train 3 times in a day. I love public transportation, but wow, I never considered the soon-to-be costs of these outings. I hate to say it but driving will become far cheaper and after our train experience last Saturday, definitely more pleasant. Not sure if it’s because the weather was so nice and there were more riders and tourists in general, but the subways were crowded, like rush hour levels crowded. The kind of crowded where you’re packed in like sardines and you wonder to yourself, even though you are totally pro-public transportation all the way, if the destination is worth the hassle of getting there. The girls were getting squished, especially because adults can’t see them at their eye level when they’re trying to push their way in. All they can see is an empty space thinking there’s more room when in fact it’s being occupied by children. So much fun, so much stress, trying to prevent your kids from getting trampled on a crowded train while you become that obnoxious person on the train who yells, “hey, we can’t move further in because there are kids down here!”.
I admit that I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder when it comes to subway fare because as self employed people in NYC, we have to pay the MTA a commuter transportation mobility tax because…who knows why? It’s the stupidest tax created for the self employed on the planet. Let’s penalize freelancers who don’t even commute by making them pay hundreds of dollars to the MTA every year! So yes, even though we only ride the subway a handful of times a month if that, Mark and I both pay more tax to the MTA than we spend on subway fare every year. It makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? (said no self employed person ever). So whenever I think about the MTA tax, I shove Mia under the turnstiles at the subway stations despite her protests of wanting to pay, explaining to her that I’ve already paid for her, in taxes!
Oh, New York. Sometimes we put up with your bullshit to get to the good stuff.
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