Wednesday, September 30, 2009


So last night was fun. Owen got to take his first ride in an ambulance, I rediscovered my inability to stay calm in a crisis, and we all got to spend several hours at the ER watching drunks refuse to get their temperature taken. In a word: Awesome.

Owen has the croup. Unfortunately we didn't realize that when he was doubled over, unable to breathe. Logically I knew he wasn't dying. He was coughing. He wasn't blue. But logic goes out the frakking window when your baby keeps grabbing at his neck and gagging for air. So we did what any parent does with a panic button and no car - we called 9-1-1.

Unfortunately I forgot that when you call 9-1-1, they issue an immediate all-points bulletin. Nothing like having 2 cops, 2 paramedics, and 1 disappointed medical student tromping into your apartment in the middle of the night to give your already panicked child an extra dose of freak. On the plus side, we got to meet the some of the nicest public servants this city has to offer. They immediately diagnosed Owen's distress as the croup, but instead of making us feel like total assholes for wasting their time they were gentle and sympathetic and helpful and kind. (A shout out to NYC's finest EMTs, Bill and Handsome Bald Guy.) Because Owen was still gasping and flailing, they insisted we go to the hospital which is why we spent our Tuesday night parked in front of a saline mist. 3 hours, 1 liquid steroid, and a $75 bottle of Infant Tylenol later, we were home and apparently feeling much better. (The first thing out of Owen's mouth: "Eat! Mmmm! Cake!") Yep. Fine.

If things get alarming again tonight, I now know to put him in a steamy room or go for a walk outside. (Steam and cold open your bronchial tubes, keeping your throat from swelling shut.) I wish I'd known this when I was 26 and without health insurance. I came down with a terrible case of croup but couldn't afford to the pay the doctor fees out of pocket, so I thought I'd just push through. Until I woke up with mold growing on my tongue. Believe me, nothing will get you asking for a loan faster than a moldy tongue. (Thanks, mom and dad!)

Anyway, no school or close contact with kids for a week. I predict large quantities of pudding and Elmo.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


There are many things I should be doing right now, like meeting my writing deadlines or washing the dishes. Instead, I'm sitting here in an oversized tee pretending to interview Drew Barrymore. (For the record, she thinks I'm awesome.)

In other news, I've become obsessed with moving. Scratch that. I've become obsessed with looking up real estate listings in cool little towns that I will probably never set foot in. I really enjoy New York City (this week I've seen EMTs resuscitating a drunk next to a guy in a giant duck costume, a very tiny Michael Jackson impersonator, and Jemaine and Brent from Flight of the Conchords) but the thought of more than one bedroom is catnipping the shit out of my brain. Matt and I have been debating Portland (he wants Oregon, I want Maine) and New Paltz but any quaint, friendly, progressive, walkable, nature-friendly, affordable, arts-heavy place will do, as long as it has really good schools. Easy, right?

We're nursing a case of the icks around here. (Runny noses, green snot. You know the drill.) Owen has been hit especially hard. He snuffles around the apartment crying "All done! All done!" and wiping his nose on the cat. I tried to raise the head of his mattress to help him breathe better but unfortunately I underestimated my toddler's interest in climbing to the top and sliding down. (Perhaps I should have used the Philip Pullmans instead of the Harry Potters...) But I did discover these awesome things to help with his sore nose - they're called Boogie Wipes (terrible, terrible name) and they're great for kids whose noses have been rubbed raw by tissues. They're little saline wipes (saline helps dissolve mucus) and are really gentle on stuffy noses. It's the only thing Owen will allow us to wipe with. (Bonus: the scents are nice and subtle, unlike most kid's products.)

Say, did I mention that POWERLESS comes out on Oct. 27? Exciting, exciting, exciting! (Psst - I have some very cool news to share once I get the "all clear" from the Powers - read: publicists - That Be.) Buy this book and help us buy our child a shirt with sleeves!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I dislike 6 am. I think I have clearly established that. But there is one thing that makes waking up (if not actually getting up) signiiiiiiificantly sweeter:

"Mama! EYES! Mama is EYES! Guy! Sit! Car! EYES!"

That high-pitched baby voice running though his favorite new words, putting together tentative sentences, so pleased with himself? Earth-shatteringly cute. It takes a lot to get me to smile before the sun comes up but c'mon, I'm not made of stone.

In other news, Owen's in school now. I guess it's not so much "school" as "vaguely controlled chaos" but it's nice to see him cavorting with other kids. I just read an article about the country's most expensive pre-K programs; most of them run upwards of $20,000 per year. For pre-school. I barely remember pre-school. It got me thinking - is school at this age even really necessary? Couldn't a nurturing home/active social life be enough? Owen loves his class so I'm feeling rah-rah about early education but $20K...

If you had that kind of scratch lying around would you spend it on preschool? Or would you tell your kid to suck it and just buy a really awesome boat?

Monday, September 21, 2009


Yes. Back. Hi.

Can we take a moment to discuss the deliciousness of grandparents? Having a second set of eyes/hands to cover the blur of frizz that is my toddler at 21 months? Even though I'm with the kid practically 24/7, it amazes me how little of it is spent actually playing with him. The bulk of my day is spent washing dishes, picking up toys, and finding creative ways to say no. Having someone else around who actually enjoys coloring for hours on end makes a huge difference. Still, moving back to Kansas just isn't an option. (Our life is here. Plus I still haven't eaten at Gramercy Tavern or walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.) We won't discuss how sad it is that my parents only get to see Owen a few times a year or the bedbug infestation that is taking over our building or the gaggle of quasi-terrorists they rounded up Queens or the fact that we're contemplating raising a second child in a one-bedroom apartment. Our life is here. And for the most part it's good. (As long as I don't have to color. I'm not alone in this, right?)

In other news, 3 more months until the Dreaded-Dreaded. I can't believe my kid is almost 2! But there are signs...

He's getting KNUCKLES.

I actually wailed when I discovered it last night. The loss of those chubby little dimples kills me. Bye-bye baby chins. See ya, chompable thighs. He's edging into certifiable kid territory. Luckily, aside from a penchant for limits testing (if you've read "Harold and the Purple Crayon" you have an idea of what life is like around these parts now that Crayola has been introduced) and a deeply held vegetable aversion, he's still awfully sweet. In class yesterday one of the dads mentioned Owen's consistently sunny disposition, and it's true. He's rarely grumpy or full of rage, although he has an inCREDibly short fuse. (Just like his mama!) He generally likes to share although there's been a marked increase in the use of the word "mine". (School is teaching him that being generous often means getting the short end of the stick. Or the fire truck. Or the blocks.) But all in all I feel lucky - scratch that: amazed - that a child of mine is so happy. Please God, let it hold through the teen years....

Monday, September 14, 2009


Why yes, my husband is awesome - at least according to his new (and very kid-friendly!) website.

"Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the marketing team at Random House for a little Powerless pre-publication pow-wow. (Alliteration, anyone?) They were gracious, enthusiastic and made me feel like a real honest-to-goodness author.

And they fed me cupcakes.

I suspect that this is a privilege reserved for only the select few. I suspect there are a whole host of authors out there who, upon reading this, might place a frantic early-morning call to their agents and editors demanding to re-negotiate their contracts to insure a cupcake clause. But I am sorry to share the following, daunting publishing facts with you:

  • Of the percentage of writers who garner the majority of their income from writing, less than 5% are given cupcakes.
  • Of that 5% (let’s call them the cupcake class), less than 3% are offered a choice of vanilla OR chocolate, and their quantities are severely limited.
  • This leaves a minuscule 1.5% of published authors who are provided a choice of cupcake flavors and encouraged to eat their fill.

Them’s the tough facts, folks. So what I’m saying is – don’t quite carrying around your own snack cakes."

Saturday, September 12, 2009


School started this week which meant that the streets were filled with Kindergartners buzzing about... what school they attend.

Here in NYC, competition starts early. Remember Senior year, when kids would suddenly start sporting Northwestern/Yale/Vassar tees, casually advertising their admittance (not to mention their impressive SAT scores)? Shrink and add sippy cups and you've got my neighborhood playground. Tots with "Dalton" or "Lycee Francais" stamped across their chests. Tiny voices imploring "Let's play first day at Midtown West!" (Our prestigious local public school. Spaces in the school are so coveted, admission is done by lottery.) Parents hover together, discussing their preschoolers' G&T scores. G&T, or Gifted and Talented, is a big deal here. A BIG DEAL. Since most NYC public schools are desperately overcrowded and underfunded, "testing well" can help get your child into a better school. Trouble is, kids - and their parents - are getting smarter. There are tutors. Test prep classes. Books and flash cards and coaching sessions to help Baby Smartface get the score that will qualify him for something other than the concrete awfulness down the street.

In my grade school, there wasn't such an obvious range of intellect. A few kids disappeared to go to "gifted", some were pulled aside for special-ed. But the bulk of us were average. Here, average doesn't seem to exist. I think about what lies ahead for my boy and I get scared. It seems like so much pressure, the necessity that he prove his smarts. Isn't preschool supposed to be fun?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I know, I know. Reading about someone else's vacation is like watching a massage, minus the entertaining ending. But if you think that's going to stop me from nattering on, you don't know me at all.

Two words about Mohonk Mountain House - Go. Now. Yes, it is breathtakingly expensive. Yes, it has a clumsy name. And yes, it. is. awesome. Like hiking? Rock climbing? Competitive mountain biking? Neither do I. But if you don't get misty eyed staring at that enormous, pristine lake you're clearly not human. (I broke into tears three times that first day. My street cred, she's gone.)

Mohonk is not for everyone. It is old. Deadwood old. Our room was built in 1882 and had most of the original furniture, yet somehow managed to avoid the B&B twee that makes me run screaming. It does have Adirondack chairs and s'mores by firelight and lots and lots of good smelling air. You know, if you like those sorts of things.

We chased bunnies and bees and woodchucks through the garden, splashed in the pristine (and heavily lifeguarded) waters at the beach, and kicked it at a spa voted one of America's top 25 by Conde Nast Traveler. (Facial followed by a dip in the outdoor mineral pool followed by magazines by the fire? Why yes, I think I will!) We've already booked next year's reservation. It was that frickin' good.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Yesterday as I was walking home, a young guy walked past me and said, "Hi, pretty girl."

Nice, right? Who doesn't love a complement? Especially from someone who's reasonably attractive and not maritally obligated to give you one. Then I noticed something -

He was holding hands with his girlfriend.


I smiled out of reflex, figuring I must know the guy. Why else would dude break out the Well, hello theres. But nope. Nuh-uh. Just some guy. With his girlfriend. Walking.

Am I the only one thrown by this?

There were no overt signs of douchiness - no backwards baseball cap or "you, me, and girlfriend makes three" eyebrow communique. Maybe I'm just out of the loop and this the new friendly? Hipsters are Pepe LePew-ing their way down Broadway, complementing ladies wearing baggy, laundry day shorts? If so, I need to get out more.