Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Scenes from a Carriage

- The most fashionable person I've seen in NYC so far I saw at the de-licing salon.

Monday, April 28, 2014

One-Armed Babysitter

A couple of weeks ago, I went to an instalment of the Upper West Side moms group. Only one woman from the previous week was there, so two new faces. One looked as if she had, at one point, been a model, but for a brand like Stussy. The other was a former school teacher from California who later told me she hated New York, and wanted to go back to the west coast.  All she had here, she said, was her family and her church.

We were in a park in Harlem this time, down 110th St., a few blocks from my apartment. As I laid my worn Wreck Beach sarong beside their matching JJ Cole park blankets (they were the exact right weight for the park, but still easily foldable) they talked about the first birthday party for the kid of a mutual friend at a "summer estate" in the Hamptons.

"They had rented a circus tent and a few performers. Like, clowns and magicians," said the model.

"And a birthday buffet," said the one I'd met the week before, a non-profit fundraiser.

"And there was a llama." 

"A llama," I said. "It's the llama that really brings the party to the next level." 

Just then three loud bangs cracked the air. The entire park- parents, kids, nannies, BBQ-ers, the homeless - went silent, looking towards the spot from which the sound had come.  There was a moment of very tense anticipation. Then the word "car" drifted back over the crowd and the afternoon buzz resumed.  

"Yeah, it was a fun party," the model continued. 

"Were there many kids there?" I asked. 

"It was made clear," the fundraiser said, " in the invite that the party wasn't really for kids." 

"What?" I almost said, but another woman had arrived. The first things I noticed about her, and maybe this says something about me, were the diamond studs and solid gold watch she was wearing with her casual capris and striped Polo shirt. The second thing was the pedicured toes painted red poking out of MK sandals, since they were at my level. 

"Hello everyone!" she said as she unfolded another JJ Cole blanket, then  placed her baby in the middle of the circle with all the other babies. Alice was aggressively tugging the Baby Einstein radio from the model's daughter. The model kept glancing over, frowning, looking concerned while trying not to look concerned. I gently pried her little fingers off of it and handed it to the girl. 

Talk turned to babysitting services. "My friend has a funny story about that service," said gold watch. "She signed on, and received a ton of emails from potential babysitters. This one candidate looked perfect. My friend called her references, and then talked to her on the phone. The girl sounded great, and she hired her to come babysit for a date night, sight unseen. The night comes, and my friend opens the door, and the babysitter only has one arm."

"Ha!" I laughed. "That is kind of funny. A surprise one-armed babysitter."  

Gold watch looked at me stone-faced. "That's not the funny part."


"My friend had spoken with her former employers, three of them, and the agency, and no one had even mentioned that she only had one arm. It's just amazing that no one brought it up."

"This shows," said the school teacher, "that many "disabled" people can function just fine in an able-bodied world. To them there's no difference worth mentioning."

"Yeah," I said. "She probably did a great job. But at first it would be startling to see that the person you had hired to take care of your baby had, like, one arm."

"Obviously, this woman wasn't inhibited by her difference," gold watch snapped. The other women looked down at the grass. She was obviously offended that I had found humour in this part of the story. So what was the funny part?

"The funny part," continued gold watch, leaning forward a little to talk past me at the school teacher. "My friend was desperately trying to text her husband to warn him of this, since he was coming home a little later. She was SO worried he was going to say something inappropriate! Husbands, right?"

"Ha ha" said the school teacher.

Gold watch, who seemed to have a pretty strong command of the mommies group, ignored me for the rest of the visit, which, for me, wasn't that much longer. I guess she was offended because she thought I was laughing at the one-armed babysitter. But what she failed to get, I thought as pushed the stroller and stomped home, was that I was laughing at the mom. SHE was the butt of the joke, the one dealing with the surprise and initial awkwardness. And yes that awkwardness acknowledges difference, but a one-armed babysitter IS difference. Had the story been that the one-armed babysitter changed diapers with her feet, then the laughter would have been at her expense, and I'd understand the offence.

Or maybe something else was dangling in the web of UWS mommy-group dynamics, something having to do with my sarong. I have no idea.

Anyway, whatever. Alice update! We went to the zoo yesterday, and for the first time she saw all the animals that inhabit her books. Her eyes were wide as she frantically waved to the giraffes, zebras and gorillas. "Hi! hi! hi!"Hanging out with her is kind of the best.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Long pause

So, a few things that have happened since I last wrote forever ago-

- I haven't gone out very much after 6:30PM since moving to NYC. Other than the nights I go to the theatre with Michael, I've been in bed by 10, unless I've started on the downward spiral of New Girl episodes, in which case I'm up until the writing gets bad again.

On a Friday a few weeks ago, I was planning my night- deciding whether to read Vanity Fair's profile of Nicole Kidman or sleep, when an acquaintance from Regina, Natalie, emailed me. Would I like to hang out with her tomorrow night? In the time since I'd seen her, she said, she'd married the bassist from Arcade Fire. They were playing a secret (but sold-out) Williamsburg gig that night. Would I like to come backstage and have a drink? Yeah sure why not. The one night I go out, might as well spend it backstage at the show of one of my favourite bands.

Natalie and I grabbed beers from the corner store (which made no sense since there were tubs of them backstage) then found our way through a makeshift curtain. We were standing by the snack table (Heineken on ice! Fresh carrots!) when the band gathered and slid their arms onto each other's shoulders to form a circle for their pre-show salutations. Natalie and I awkwardly looked away and around the room. It felt like we were witnessing a very intimate moment and we were the only two non-band members in the room. So off to our chairs we went.

The audience, which was a mix of Pitchfork-reading 20-somethings and oldies like me, was dressed up in tuxs and ball gowns. The band played new tunes for the most part, and it felt a little like a rehearsal for the tour they were about to embark on. After the show, the backstage area filled up and I stuck beside Natalie and Tim.

A very dapper looking gentleman, his curly hair greying, walked up and gave Tim a hug. "Hi Mac," Tim said.

"I have a couple things for you,"said Mac. He handed Tim the yet-unreleased new Spanish album from Destroyer.

"Do you like Destroyer?" Mac asked me.

"Hell ya,"I said. "Is the new album any good though?"

Pause from everyone. "Yes, I think it is," Mac finally said. Of course this was Mac McCaughan from Superchunk, founder of Merge Records. Who produces Destroyer and Arcade Fire. He better think it's good.

At this point I actually saw someone I kinda sorta knew - John Cameron Mitchell, creator of Hedwig and Hannah's boss on Girls. I excused myself from the awkward and approached him to say hi. He grabbed my arm and slurred "come have a smoke with us." I'm not sure if he knew who I was, but out I went. He pushed open the emergency exit and pulled me into the alleyway. And there, waiting by a garbage bin, was Owen Pallett. I remember him standing in a wisp of smoke, but that might not be accurate.

"Caaarrriie, do you know Owen? Have you heard of Final Fantasy? That's him."
"Of course, I love your work. In fact, I saw you in Regina once. I asked you to come join us for drinks, and you said no."
Again, pause. "Well, that was a tough tour. We were all really tired..."
"You said it was because you'd drank so much in Saskatoon!"
"Oh...I'm sorry.... if that offended you." He looked quickly at John.
"No, no! I don't care! I really don't! I'm just...talking." John quickly changed the subject to Obamacare.

It was a super fun night, but mostly because Natalie and I hid in a corner, drank beer and talked. Even in the midst of backstage craziness, nothing beats girl time.


- Still waiting for Green Card. Wondering if I'll ever be allowed entry into the work force again.

- Alice does a little dance every time she hears the word "robot."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Moms of the UES

In the thick of our sleep problems (she wakes up only twice-nightly now!) I saw a posting on a mom's meet-up site for a talk given by a sleep expert. It was perfect timing, and seemed pretty necessary at that point. The posting made a pretty clear distinction, though - it was for the Upper East Side. But it included lunch, wasn't too far from our neighbourhood, and we were desperate for sleep, so why not. I paid the $40 and couldn't help but get a little excited about meeting other moms, UES or not.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sleep Training

Recently, Alice lost her voice. She sounded like a very small, baby-talking Kathleen Turner. She lost her voice because of the four consecutive nights of scream-crying as we Cried It Out.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Breast Feeding in Public

Since arriving in NYC, I've been trying to gauge the level of acceptance of public breastfeeding (under my "modesty sheet" of course. Very Victorian.) And I've noticed that I now, a month in, feel a lot less comfortable with it than I did in Canada.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Ok, I probably have about seven minutes to write this, given the inner baby sleep clock I’ve developed.
- Alice said "da da" while looking and waving at M. She said it with intent, and purpose. It was definitely different from the usual baby talk. It was magical. It actually felt like magic.

- Last week, I had a meeting with a media company about some past work. I can’t really say which one, except lets call them SIN. They have a Yes/No list that’s pretty infamous. Skaters. Extant photography. Anyway, they wanted to ask me about research I had done in the past for a segment they’re working on for their video department.