It’s been a whiny summer here at mauraweb!, and I’m sorry about that. Really, I am. Seriously! Stop laughing. I can still see you snickering behind your hand.
I realized the other day that I’m having a summer of female vocalists. First it was the new Tracey Thorn record in May. Then in June I got the second Lady Gaga record for my birthday, and almost immediately had to buy the first. In each of these cases I pulled a total deep-ender and found myself listening to little else (except for the occasional Orbital, which is my anti-writer’s-block go-to music).
For July it’s most definitely been Janelle Monae. I was a little late to this party–my pal Luke and millions of others have been blogging her praises since the record came out in May. But now I’m fully hooked. Everything everyone says is true: it’s an incredibly rich, diverse, funky album. I love the references to folks like Bowie and Prince, but I also adore the orchestral sections, esp. the strings. She’s arranged the record into two suites and it feels like a soundtrack, which reminds me of my obsession with the Diva soundtrack when I was in high school. And I double-dog dare you *not* to tap your feet along with the single. Go ahead, try it–I’ll wait:
I suspect that my August will continue to be filled w/female voices: Kristin Hersh’s new record was just released. Actually it’s a book and a record. A recbook. A bookord. Whatever it is, I’m ordering it right up.
It’s lame to complain about the weather. I know this, but I cannot help myself. It’s 87 degrees outside right now (down from today’s high of 934 or so) and feels like it’s been this way for weeks and weeks. Even with liberal A/C use (and the electric bills to prove it), I still seem to get all hot and sweaty several times a day. I’m tired of having to shower twice a day and all of the extra laundry. I’m sick of feeling lethargic and crabby and not getting enough exercise. Begone, global warming!
I spent what seemed like a huge amount of time this weekend ferrying Gus around to his various social engagements via car and subway, and I found myself daydreaming about a summer house someplace colder. But where’s cold enough? It’s been in the 80s in Vermont and Maine, and there’s not a lot of a/c up there. Upper 70s in Montreal and lower 70s in Quebec, that’s a little better. A surprising 84 today in Halifax, which takes it out of the running, I’m afraid.
Or we could go for the ultimate: it’s in the mid-60s these days in Reykjavik. And for an added bonus, the sun rises at 3:56am and sets at 11:13pm!
It was an interesting mental puzzle to keep my brain busy. In this scenario we would sublet the apartment and would pack up the cats + take them to our summer getaway. I could take my vacation and maybe some research time and smush it all together to make a biggish chunk. A month, say? We’ve never been away for that long before. We’d need to end up someplace that’s either so exciting + interesting (forest and water? ocean? pool?) for Gus that he’d have loads to do (because we would likely need to spend at least some of the time working) or put him in some kind of camp.
The reality is probably considerably less rosy (or feasible). We’d need to arrange for *some* time with other kids, because a month with just the three of us would probably drive us all batty. And I’m sure that once we got someplace cooler I’d be grumpy that there’s not enough to do. Because one of the other things that makes me sad about this heat is that we haven’t had the chance to do all of the fun summer things there are to do here, like go to Governor’s Island or check out the new part of Brooklyn Bridge Park or visit the lion cubs up at the Bronx Zoo. NYC FTW!
(or maybe I’m just trying to psyche myself up for a hot hot bike ride to work tomorrow morning)
Gus is back in swimming lessons. He loves the water and can swim well enough to hang out in the deep end, but he’s still kind of spazzy and doesn’t know the actual strokes. Since we live on an island and he’s getting on in years, we decided it was time for him to really learn how to swim.
I was in 3rd grade when I first took swimming lessons, the second half of 3rd grade during which I went to a Montessori school and we swam once/week with school. (The first half I’d gone to the local Catholic school, which is part of another story.)
I can’t remember much about swimming before then. I don’t think I was afraid of the water. I had a great-aunt who lived at the shore (Ventnor, NJ) so I swam in the ocean every summer. We must have gone swimming in other pools too, at least occasionally, but I don’t really remember.
So I wasn’t exactly a swimming newbie in 3rd grade, but I don’t think I’d ever had lessons and I didn’t know any of the strokes. Even after I could swim enough to head out of the shallow end I must not have had much experience with the deep end or diving boards, because I vividly remember standing on the diving board adamantly NOT wanting to jump in, while the swim instructors encouraged me to.
Did they give me a gentle nudge to push me in? That I can’t say for sure. I thought that’s the way I remembered it, but now that I’m an adult and a parent I’m somewhat skeptical that it really happened that way. I mean, what sane adult would push a scared little kid into the pool?
Another piece of evidence against the pushing is that I don’t remember being particularly afraid of the water afterward, either.
A couple of years later I took swimming lessons again at a local pool in the summer. That must be when I really learned how to swim. I even ended up taking diving lessons in junior high. Yet another blow to the potential reality of the pushing memory?
Now I’m an okay swimmer. I know the strokes and can use them, but I’m not very good. A couple of years when we belonged to a gym with a pool I tried to swim. It’s certainly good exercise — it wore me out much faster than the elliptical or other machines. But chlorine really bothers me so I stopped, then we ended up quitting that gym. I still love swimming in the ocean each summer, though.
Post-vacation re-entry can be hard. Especially when it’s 100 million billion jillion degrees out. I spent the early morning trying to pull the fuzz from my head only to have to go out into the inferno for my eye doctor appointment in the afternoon, record-breaking temperatures be dammed! I now have a spiffy new prescription, though, so it was worth it (though I still have to get some glasses somewhere…).
We spent the long holiday weekend up in the northlands visiting extended family, where it was almost as hot as it is here. Gus got his fill of vacation awesomeness: swimming in the pool (for literally 4 hours straight on Saturday!), smores via campfire, snuggling with grandparents, and videogames + watching The Last Airbender with his teenage cousins. (The movie kinda sucked, but that’s a post for another day.)
This morning he trooped off to camp, sleep-deprived, of course, since staying up too late is another hallmark of vacationing. I try not to wallow in the murk of parent martyrdom, but I couldn’t help feeling kind of bummed all day. He was not very excited to go to camp. It’s a perfectly fine camp — lots of activities, swimming twice each week and the beach on Fridays. He went last year and had a good time, but this year he doesn’t really know anyone there. He’s well into the putting on a brave face in a new situation phase, but I changed schools enough as a kid to remember how yucky it can be walking into the first day in a new place.
Mainly I felt kind of sad that we can’t give him the summer he wants, which is clearly to swim, play videogames and burn things, maybe with some reading + hanging out with friends thrown in there for good measure. I’m hyperbolizing, but I do wish there were some way to give him some more unstructured time that’s *not* just sitting around our apartment playing videogames, as well as some outdoor and swimming time. For the first time ever Gus said he wished we had a yard, though he did concede one advantage of the city: it’s relatively light on bugs (mosquitos, at least).
Of course, noplace is perfect. Houses, yards + pools are lovely but require maintenance; living apart from others is peaceful but requires driving to get anywhere. Would that there was some sort of hybrid location *between* urban and rural. I guess this is why people move to the suburbs? Though the suburbs always strike me as the worst of both worlds: almost as much driving as rural and twice the strip malls, ugh.
Swimming lessons start up for Gus on the weekend, and maybe that’s the key to a nice summer: oodles of time by the pool. And we have lots of pools here in the city, all bug-free.
I cannot believe how quickly the summer has gone by. This has been a busy one, but a fun one. There are still some things we didn’t get to do that I wish we’d done. We didn’t go to Governor’s Island, or raspberry picking or to the sprinkler playground on the West side. We didn’t go to Staten Island (though we can do that in the fall). But we did go to the Met (and rode on the M3 as a bonus, which was a thrill for Gus: “I’ve never been on an M bus before!”). And to the Red Hook Pool, swoon, which will be closed after Labor Day (unlike the sprinklers). And just this past weekend we went pedal-boating in he park, which was fun once we settled into it. Gus’ legs are really too short to pedal, but he’s a tenacious little guy so we muddled along with him pedaling and grumping, then when he got tired we pedaled. And rode the trolley home, hooray!
(I’m well aware that I am wasting the linklicious powers of the internets by not adding links to all of those places mentioned in the above paragraph, but I’m tired and you all have google powers of your own, don’t you?)
In other news, this is my last week at work, which is all at once exciting, sad and freaking me out. More than anything it’s making the running voice track in my head into a third-person narrative, which is alternately engrossing, boring or annoying. Things like “she walked up the stairs of the subway station, counting the steps as she always did, realizing that she’d only be doing this for a few more days.” Yawn. Why can’t my inner life be more interesting than my outer?
But I am really really ready to be doing the library thing all the time. Tonight there was an orientation down at school and it just increased my agita to get with the program.
So here’s a question: why is it that I always seem to find a way to mention to my new library friends + colleagues that I have a kid? It’s odd, I didn’t even realize I was doing it at first, but even though I’m aware of it now I can’t seem to stop it, even if I try. I guess it’s because these are the first people I’ve met in a long time not in the context of being a parent (as opposed to meeting other parents at Gus’ school, for example). Interesting.
Or not, as the case may be. I like my tenacious, transit-loving kid. And I missed him tonight, going straight from work to Pratt. And that’s definitely reason enough to talk about him.
Hi internets, how are you? I’m much better, thanks, now that my last summer class has ended and it’s no longer Journey-to-the-Center-of-the-Earth hot here in Brooklyn. And I’ve got three weeks to catch up on sleep before the fall semester starts, wahoo!
We came through the heat pretty well in our house, and thankfully there were no brown- or blackouts in our ‘hood. There was, however, a moderate laundry crisis. Our dryer does not vent to the outside, so doing the wash on those heat index 110 days was pretty much not an option. I very nearly had to resort to washing the underpants in the sink (or stuffing Gus into his old size 3 tighty-Thomasy-s) when finally the heat broke to merely Journey-Halfway-to-the-Center-of-the-Earth levels.
And I cleaned! Yes, I used my Friday off, the day after classes ended, to clean the house. I’m embarrassed to tell you, dear internets, how long it had been since the house was cleaned, but you could use all the powers of your browser to find out how long Pratt’s second summer session was, which I’m pretty sure is the answer to that question.
So, to recap: the semester is over, the laundry is done, the house is cleaned. Ahhhh. Time for maxing and relaxing. And my last three weeks of work, which is kind of blowing my mind.
The little prince requires my help with his Super Mario addiction — later gators.
Can someone please tell me why we have not managed to make it to the Red Hook Pool until today? Seriously, we are dumb! Because a fantastic time was had by all three Smillers today. First stop: the pool, which is just enormous: a 4′ pool the size of Rhode Island with a 1′ kiddie pool + sprinklers right next to it (with easy parking right out front!). The sun was punishing, but there was a little shade on the edges and the pool was so nice and cool, it didn’t even matter that it was 90 zillion degrees out.
Next stop, the soccer field catty-corner to the pool, around which vendors sell incredible, amazing, freshly cooked Latin American food. J + I split a meltingly delicious chicken tamale and an enormous chorizo taco (with a handmade tortilla!). Gus, Senor Picky Eater, shocked us by wolfing down a pupusa con queso, which was even more surprising as he’d spent the walk from the pool to the vendors whining that he wanted a hot dog, just a hot dog, a hooooooooot dooooooooooog. And we washed it all down with a limeade. Yum!
As if that could even be topped, we decided to pull out all the calorie stops and head over to Baked (best. bakery. name. ever.) for a sugar fix (a.k.a. desperate attempt to keep Gus from falling asleep in the car on the way home*). We split a yummy lemon cake (with lemon curd between the layers and lemon buttercream frosting) and brought home a lemon lime bar and this crazy peanut butter + chocolate cake. Yum YUM!
And no, we didn’t go to Fairway (ample parking be damned, how could we ever cheat on the Food Coop?). Red Hook is so pretty, so urban yet so quiet, like a small town in the city. I think we shall go every weekend!
* which didn’t work: he was out by the time we crossed the Gowanus. We parked the car on our street and then everyone napped for 45 minutes.
In other news, that cute blond monkey named Veronica Mars is finally off our back. We watched the finale of season 2 last night. Two whole seasons in 24 days, is that some sort of record? Some sort of dorks-with-no-life record, maybe. ANYway the finale was satisfying in some ways (Veronica + Logan TLA! Bye-bye Harry Hamlin! And of course we knew the Mayor would turn into a demon!) but not in others: hello, BEAVER is the evil mastermind??? That just seems kind of contrived. And the Jackie with a kid thing is kind of lame, too. But we will be front and center for season three, on that new weird country + western network. Yee-hah!