March 12 at 3:18 PM
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, eh eh
What is Going On?’ – Marvin Gaye
[Disclaimer: I want to say that I am taking the situation very seriously and all my thoughts to those who are already affected but I need to process the last 24 hours in my own neurotic way.]
I usually never panic. When everything falls apart around me, my face does not move and I usually keep chopping onions. This is probably the result of a rather troubled childhood. Growing up in a home where people would get screamed at or hit at you for no apparent reasons or where you are having dinner without knowing the person who is eating next to you on any given day kind of trains you for the ‘no reaction resting bitch face’.
Ten years living in New York sealed the deal. Things like your children wanting to apply their CPR technique on a crack addict who fell on the street at 8am build up your armor. You just cannot lose your shit there.
So yeah, I always pride myself for never showing emotions and keep on. And I chop onions, cilantro too. My faves.
But here’s the step by step recount of the day I started to waver during the coronavirus pandemic.
Step 1: What is going on in Whole Foods???
I get a concerned call in the middle of a business meeting from A begging me to get medications and food as we may have a lockdown situation on our hands soon.
I am laughing; he is not. He is really getting on my nerves right now. I truly married Mr Doom and he does not even wear a freaking cape and his hipster beard is NOT a steel mask so can he just drop the act? OK, fair enough he has foreseen countless financial crises or dips which saved us some money on the housing market back in 2007. Still, I am still not over that time when he refused to tape our windows for the Irene hurricane mocking me for my over reacting – which led to angry sex and…L 9 months later as I was barely out from breast feeding the twins. Not regretting the arrival of L. but I am still mad about the Irene’s ‘I am not duct taping your fucking windows’. So we argue for 5 mins over ‘the end of the world’ shopping.
Eventually, I give in mainly out of pure viciousness. He has been on my a** about our grocery bill for months and I am having a free rein today? B**** no need to tell me twice.
So here I am casually strolling through Whole Foods getting Morbier cheese and snails in a jar just to take the piss. But then, I end up facing empty shelves after empty shelves. There is no pasta, rice, lentils, or quinoa. Granted it is freaking Whole Foods so there is always a shortage of quinoa. I do lose my smug face straight on, though.
When the same shit happens in the frozen veggies section, I start frowning. The only thing left is frozen corn – which is not a vegetable by the way. I am frowning so much that I cannot even find it in me to celebrate a personal victory as I spent 2 full decades saying to the masses that : ‘corn has no place on frozen pizzas! Get out of my lawn!’
When I see that the only sugar left is biodynamic organic sugar – whatever it freaking means – I am getting dizzy. Hmmm…
Note: Biodynamic means ‘of or relating to a system of farming that follows a sustainable, holistic approach which uses only organic, usually locally-sourced materials for fertilizing and soil conditioning, views the farm as a closed, diversified ecosystem, and often bases farming activities on lunar cycles.’ Is it bad that as I am reading this definition the first thing I am thinking is the female body and menstruations and not sugar at all?
Guess if we are in a lockdown, the ones who will be ahead of all of us are the ones who know how to make their own bread, cook frozen corn and flax seeds.
As I am pondering whether or not I am ready to take the flaxseeds leap of faith since somehow I did buy dry mung beans without knowing what it is, I am texting my girlfriends to laugh. My girlfriends and I have this 24h day SMS line in which texts go from ‘I just told my kids to shut up’ to ‘people need to check their privilege’ or ‘shots, vodka or Prosecco?’’ . These women do not play, they don’t BS and talk it real. Harlem real. I rely on them every day to keep me cool as a cucumber. Or just cool, period.
I start ranting about how people are all nuts starting with my own husband. But after 5 mins I realize that I have now set up a train wreck in motion. Speed 2 has nothing on me right now. Keanu, come back and save me!!!
Yep, my girlfriend’s husband is texting her now: ‘A knows something!!! Get food, get cash!’.
Me: ‘Chill out, ladies, A knows nothing!!! He is a hypochondriac!!! Stop, people!’
But it is too late, way too late. I am taking that last organic semolina pasta pack off the shelf.
Step 2: Corona caused first family dispute
A comes back home: ‘if the whole city shutdowns, should we drive to Vermont???’
Me: ‘The city is not SHUTTING DOWN! This is New York. Stop it!’
Then he starts questioning my ‘it is the end of the world’ supplies: ‘that’s it?’
Me: ‘oh yeah???? You are complaining? Are you kidding me? Look at me losing my shit now! This is me dealing with 5 hours at the ER eye center with L and looking at him licking the reception desk. Yes! LICKING!
This is me taking G for 3 cavities filling. This is me being blamed for being late for ballet by P because I was bloody looking for pasta…yes there is a shutdown: MINE !!!! And yes, you are going down Sir but because I am going to smother you in your sleep! I am and I am going to take my fucking time doing it.’
Things got silent quickly at the dining table. I am so not cool as a cucumber right now. Try a jalapeño.
Step 3: Overnight, these things happen.
Tom Hanks is sick with Covid19. If Mr Nice dies, it is the end. The world does not need this right now. Tom, I am ready to go all ‘Saving Private Ryan’ on you. We need you to make it.
Travel from Europe is banned. Okay…
The Met is shutting down. What?
Broadway is closing until further notice for the first ever, 100 million dollars in revenue loss expected.. I am beyond Jalapeño now. I am not fucking chopping onions or cilantro. I am crumbling like fucking guacamole.
I wake up and want to apologize to A but instead texts: ‘why is there still no wine on your ‘must haves bunker list’ ???
Guacamole, I am. But a bitchy guacamole.
For the second installment of my New York series, I chose our ‘garden’. I have tried to write how I feel about Central Park but I truly lack the words and the prose. The thing with Central Park is that I thought I knew everything about it because of my addiction to Sex and the City reruns: the horses, the bridges, the rocks, the ponds, the hot dog carts, the cartoonists drawing your portrait while smoking a fag, the bike renters following you until you rent a bike…
I was SO wrong. The truth is, all this stuff is just the pretty and funny veneer. Other words that non New Yorkers may not connect to Central Park include:
The Great Hill
Skateboarders in the summer
Snowboarders in the winter
Swedish Puppet Theatre
Central Park has many twists and shades. It moves, dances, it is like a human being. This is the only way I can explain how a park can still surprise the urban ‘I hate trees’ girl I am. After all these years, I still stop in my tracks asking myself: ‘how come I have never seen this rose garden before?‘ in the Summer, or ‘have the trees always been that red?‘ in the Fall, or ‘Did the ice make that pond bigger than it usually is?’ in the cold Winter.
I have too many memories to share all of them but I will give you one of my first and one of my last:
– Thor, Archibald, DH and I packed a picnic in 2 seconds after a sudden thunderstorm interrupted a classical music concert and fled the park alongside a thousand New Yorkers and their thousand colorful umbrellas. Of course we were the only morons without an umbrella. Very dramatic, Very convivial, Very New York.
– my heart dropped because we had just lost G (again) in the Park. We called out his name to no avail and I kept thinking: ‘it is Central Park, nothing bad can happen here. It is Central Park, it is your haven, nothing bad can happen here’. And yes, he eventually came back appearing behind hundreds of tulips. Safe. 30 minutes later, it was pouring down with rain and we fled the park with 3 tots in tow and NO umbrella…again. Almost got run over by a stroller. Very Over the Top, Very New York.
If you have been reading my blog, you know that I have never shined away from professing my love of this city. This series just makes it official 🙂
After a rather traumatic return from the twins’ first dental visits, and two hours of non stop tantrums today I was…Well, let’s say that even a glass of red wine could not take the edge away. But as I lay in my bed and everyone around me is snoring, I remember that when things get tough, it always helps to think about someone you love.
Tonight I am thinking about our walk through West Chelsea last Saturday where beauty and ins/aspiration elevated me. Art galleries and design showrooms cannot stop mushrooming in this area. We lived right in the heart of this hood…that is until G & P started to crawl and our 650sft apartment by the Highline thus became a bonafide nursery.
I love the warehouses, the cobble streets, the brick walls, how street art coexist with expensive sculptures or furniture…and I love imagining what the hidden lofts in these old buildings could look like. What do people hang on their walls when they have so much beauty at the bottom of their stairs? Do they sleep in silk sheets on the floor with just a gigantic glass chandelier floating above them or some shit like this?
Anyway, I got glued by the windows of Beyond 7, a retail store for a designer showroom. Dummies were decorated with hundreds of brooches, pearls, ornaments, you name it. Insanely quirky, insanely stunning. I managed to snatch a couple of shots but a real visit to this place is now on my ‘to do in New York before I die’ list.
A gallery owner then invited us 5, our 2 dirty strollers, our scrappy outfits and dirty faces (runny noses have lately become our middle names) to come inside and check out paintings by French Artist Laina Hadengue including a beautiful Frida Khalo inspired piece. I am grateful that this sophisticated lady showed us around so that our kids could see Art. And I am grateful about how she gently smiled when they eventually begged to go to the park. Unbeknownst to her, she made DH and I feel like humans again, humans who can appreciate air light brush strokes or ingenious collages. Without any prejudice.
5 minutes later, our 3 kids literally spent 2 hours throwing blocks of ice into the Hudson River while P had to pee against a tree and wipe her bum against her dad’s trousers 🙂 Days like these make me feel complete; that’s what I need to think of as I am nursing my left wrist that P scratched earlier today (it actually really hurts!) and as L is waking up just now to interrupt my middle of the night blogging/therapy…
‘Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year in the life?’
Seasons of Love, Rent musical
I have been, in a very sadistic way, enjoying reading my fellow bloggers’ meltdowns about Christmas’ preparations because it was another testimony that I am not alone in this world (sorry guys but it really made feel better). I hoped (maybe even prayed a little) that days would suddenly last 30 hours and that my kids would grow into civilized human beings, helping us out in this stressful Holiday season. I hoped they would give us a break when we were already down in the gutter rather than ganging up on us like some unruly teenagers. Recent (parent) bullying includes G & P reenacting a scene from ‘Boyz in the Hood’, blasting my guts out for no reason whatsoever. They created this Mortal Kombat twin act, taking turns to yell, point their fingers at me and pretend to shoot at me… And when I could not help but crack up, P sternly told me:‘Why are you smiling? I am not smiling…’ and bang, she then shot me. I seriously need to check whether they understood how to operate our Netflix account and switch from their ‘Kipper the dog’ program to ‘Reservoir Dogs’ or something like that, behind my back.
Anyway I am digressing. This year, we didn’t have any relatives or friends sharing Christmas’ Eve dinner with us (we are spending Christmas Day with friends). It was a first for us and it was a little sad. DH and I both come from large families with a penchant for drama prone reunions so Christmas is always an entertaining affair. But alas, this year it was just the 5 of us. I guess it was a first that I should start to embrace.
Regardless, I realized that staying put for Christmas offered some positives such as going to see cool Christmas shows, besides avoiding the ‘mind boggling kill me now’ transatlantic flights. However, the best is probably how Christmas in Harlem makes me feel I am part of some kick ass musical.
Indeed, a few days before Christmas, something wacko happened to me. I was at my local post office trying to find excuses for how I managed to fuck up yet again my Australian godchildren’s Christmas gifts. I mean, they live on the other side of the world and here I was queuing on 18th December trying to mail their presents. Considering that they have Christmas something like 24 hours (or is it 36 hours?) before we do…yeah, I needed a Christmas freaking miracle for them to get their stuff before February. After queuing for about 1 hour, I and other fellow customers started to feel fidgety. An old man (Soul Man) in front of me was singing and was watching me closely. After a while, he offered me his spot in the line probably because I looked like I was going to pee on his shoes while in fact, I was still trying to figure out whether my amateurish sealing of the package would actually hold during its transit.
I gently declined after much hesitation (after all, he was older than me for heaven’s sake); that’s when Big Man from the end of the line started to go straight to one of the counters jumping the whole queue. Oh boy, he got heckled good, Harlem style!
Crowd:’What the fuck you think you are doing? Boo, boo, get your ass back at the end of the line’
Big Man: ‘Chill out people, I thought there were were 3 lines that got merged for no reason’
Me thinking: yes because we are all idiots who want to cosy up against other sweating and stressed out customers.
He continued: ‘No need to shout. You think this whole thing is problems to me; it’s no problems. Believe me, I have real problems in my life, believe me.
Me thinking: please do NOT share more.
Soul Man gets involved: ‘Yes man, this is real life in here; we are not in a freaking movie’, before singing again.
The whole incident prompted 6 ft tall 70 year-old Mrs Doubtfire to leave her ranks and holler at the post office clerks. She lashed into a gospel-like monologue about the poor level of service and about how she had to do their job for the last hour by telling fellow customers which counter to go to and when. As the commotion was reaching its climax, she continued her paranoid preaching:‘I am sick of people thinking I am trying to jump the queue, I am standing here to make our rights heard. I was done with all my postage hours ago but I cannot leave without saying what I think. Do you feel me people, do you feel me?’
People started to cheer and Nicer Version Kanye West queuing behind me gave her a loud high five. Everyone started to laugh, whistle and show off some swagger while Big Man was yelling on his cell and repeating :‘Dude, people are getting nuts in here, they think they are a problem to me but Man, I have real problems, you know, real fucked up problems’. Some people just can’t let it go, can they?
I swear, we were very close to break into an ensemble rendition of ‘Season of Love’ from the Rent musical. Meanwhile, Goody two-shoes White boy with a prepaid package got dragged to the front of the line by Mrs Doubtfire:‘Boy, you gotta understand that there is no need to queue if you have prepaid. You get your ass to this window in front of ALL these people, lift the glass, put your package, push down the glass and go enjoy Christmas. That is how it works in here’. Livid Goody two-shoes White Boy obliged and ran out of the Post Office probably thinking he was going to get his ass handled to him by crazy crowd because he believed a lunatic old woman. He must have been a tourist…
When I finally left the Post Office, I felt full of energy, ready to listen to Rent Soundtrack, and very proud of myself for standing up, with the help of Nice Kanye West, against an older lady who decided to ruffle my feathers out of the queue because supposedly, she did not see me. I actually yelled at the old lady. Me Mrs I Get Screwed Over All The Time When Queuing In General, I yelled and held my ground. If only now, I could be as ballsy and firm with my 3 mini sociopaths at home…
Happy Holiday everyone!
I described the challenge of packing a stylish vacation wardrobe with now 3 kids in tow. So I looked for some inspirations, this blog post by Ain’t no mom jeans is particularly useful. I also decided to curb my fashion schizophrenia by adopting only one look for the entire vacation: the 40s. The idea is that it will help me filter through outfits and accessories and thus pack light (or at least lighter). It will be tough for me because I never stick to one style – see my ‘mood of the day’ posts.
First item on the packing list: Le chapeau.
Options included straw men’s hat, a cap with visor, a cowboy’s hat, and a straw large brim. The main attribute should be ‘easy to carry around’ but I favored the ‘I don’t care if it gets trashed’ factor because on my last trip to France, I wanted to show off to my family my millinery skills so I flew with my straw cloche. It was my way to say ‘No, I am not a jobless loser. I kind of make my own hats…How cool is that?’ But unfortunately a fellow passenger put their suitcase on top of it….Nice. I almost sobbed in the middle of the aisle. I have thus chosen a granny brim purchased in Savannah, Georgia which I improved with a striped scarf. The plus factor: I can pack a couple of ‘no space cluttering’ scarves as alternative trimmings. Still schizophrenic but genius, right?
I am throwing in two pairs of sunnies, a cheap one and a Tom Ford pair: one to wrestle with the kids in the pool and one to pose with on a bar terrace.
PS: my rants of the day
– I had to buy something in the village for my sis today and ended up walking in the meat packing district. I adore this hood but could not help feeling like I was the protagonist of the ‘Truman show’, except that it was more like the ‘Cindy Crawford’ show. In the meatpacking, all the women are long legged amazons, all men are like Richard effing Branson and I am the naive troll wandering around wondering if unbeknownst to me I crashed into a Style Network production.
– I did some shopping in a department store in Chelsea (aka known as gay and skinny Chelsea)and a shop assistant heckled me:’Mommy, mommy, the fitting rooms are over there’. I was like ‘Am I in the maternity section?’ and thus checked if I had picked nursing tops…Horror, I had not. She bloody thought I was pregnant !!! B-I-T-C-H.
PS bis: in the middle of the rush hour at 34th st Herald Square, a perfect falsetto rose. A big guy was singing a Maxwell (I think) song, he did not have a GQ face but a voice that stopped at least 50 people in their tracks: young African American teenagers, tourists, commuters, elderly people, busy mamas etc. I love this city for the sickening volume of talents you can find at every corner. And when that talent stops time, unites such crowd and makes me forget about the sticky weather and my swollen feet, it is just magical. New York, I am going to miss you on my vacation…
When hurricane Irene came, DH and I argued about whether to duct tape our windows or not. Irene did affect our lives, though not by flooding our apartment in Harlem: we got bored, we drank and we probably conceived L then.
When hurricane Sandy came, half of Manhattan turned pitch black and was flooded. In our small apartment, a different type of storm was causing havoc.
Here is the tale of perhaps the longest week in my life.
Day 4 – Monday
I spent all day gauging the sky while DH was monitoring the weather situation online. I kept wondering whether we should risk going to the store to buy stuff we probably wouldn’t need (we are New Yorkers and when things are uncertain, we swipe our credit cards) or risk taking the kids for a walk despite the mist. Clouds were becoming really threatening but everyone we knew seemed to be high spirited. Facebook updates were about people getting booze, stacking up food, purchasing batteries. Everyone seemed jolly; it looked like we were all going to a bloody camp fire in the Catskills. As the day progressed, the kids were increasingly getting out of control: G was banging the garden door screaming ‘outside, outside’, P was slightly nervous and kept saying ‘A-peur’ (‘Scared’) and L was very unsettled. I was looking at L and it did scare me a little. Aren’t babies like dogs and they sense danger?
A ‘Wuthering Heights’ like wind was bending the bamboo plants on our terrace. We tried to calm down the kids as well as we could; meaning we let them watch ‘Barney’ (a show about an annoying Purple dinosaur with annoying white teeth), snack crap, climb and run over high chairs as if they were a freaking gymnastics beam and throw everything on the floor. We tried to get advice through Facebook. Among the best tips: mix formula with beer and insure our home contents for storm-induced rage. To make matters worse we absolutely had no wine to drink but Sake. Sake. We were so desperate that we did drink the Sake with ice cubes to go with Foie gras – BLASPHEMY.
After dinner, our bamboo plants were still bending but nothing more and DH and I were seriously bored. And then suddenly something weird happened. My very socially networked friends suddenly stopped communicating: no more FB updates, no more text messages, no more Twitting.
Day 5 – Tuesday
After a ruined breakfast during which my homemade pancakes were thrown down on the floor, we decided to switch on the TV. That’s when we realized what some of our fellow New Yorkers and New Jersey neighbors went through: devastating winds, threatening flooding, Con Ed plant in flames, power outages. Neighbors hanging out with their wired kids in our building hallway were telling us about their friends from downtown staying over with their families. We have been the lucky ones. Somehow none of our friends accepted our invitation to crash on the couch. Looks like no power, no water, no heat is still better than 3 screaming puking babies. Go figure.
When the kids started to run out of the apartment in their pajamas we decided to go for a family stroll in Morningside Park.
We then truly realized the extent of Sandy damages…This amazing New York Magazine cover says it all: we, New Yorkers never wanted to see it or think about it when we hop in yellow cabs, down martinis or queue for Broadway shows but The City does sleep…sometimes.