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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Truly schizophrenic weather. 55 degrees on Sunday, and Monday morning we woke up to this. A neighbor told me a few months ago as we were walking down our block that he thought this was going to be a cold, snowy winter. Well, he was right. We can’t control the weather so might as well make the most of it. Took a walk in Prospect Park during the storm and I’m so glad I did. Trying to convince myself that I can’t fritter away my life indoors in my sweats staring at a screen (and oh, I am completely in love with my sweats). Gotta get out and live life and see things.
It was breathtaking, the snow.
What is it about snowfall that makes the city so quiet? I admit my mind was still rattling around with too many thoughts when I left the house and walked up towards the park, but once I stepped inside the park, I was completely enveloped in white, like walking into a softly padded sensory deprivation chamber. Even the sky was the same color as the snow.
I think a snow storm might very well be my favorite time to be in Prospect Park. In a city so crowded with people, it’s sort of a shock to have the park – or really any public space – pretty much all to yourself.
Except for the dog walkers. There will always be the dog walkers.
Posted by Jenna | 13 Comments
Love those days when you wake up in the morning with no plans, but in a moment of spontaneity, end up having one of those great NYC days. I’ve never taken the girls to the Chinese New Year Parade and have never gone myself, though I did live in Chinatown when I was 18 and remember watching the crowds pass by from my apartment. It was raining that particular year and the memory that is most vivid is seeing the tops of all those colorful umbrellas from my 2nd story window.
Usually the thought of going to any parade is quickly chased away by visions of shivering in the cold and tethering the kids to my body for fear of losing them among the overbearing throngs of people lined up 6 deep on the sidewalk, but it was 55 degrees today. Apparently with the winter we’ve been having, 55 feels like summer.
So, about that confetti…who knew little bits of paper could be so much fun?
Happy Year of the Horse.
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