Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tomato-Red Retail Therapy

In the wake of my ego-deflating facial experience last week, I have been walking around with the giant albatross of aging draped over my shoulders like a cloak of hatred. It's not been fun.

On Tuesday, I was in Manhattan for a client meeting and then was to meet Rayne for dinner. I was early. I walked toward his office in Hedgefundlandia (Midtown East) and lo and behold, what was before me but that beacon of overpriced fashion, Bloomingdale's. I went in to buy mascara, because somehow after my poop-scooping-jeans-ripping experience, I had misplaced it. I figured it would turn up if I bought some more, and then I'd have extra!

I successfully navigated the throngs of gay men hawking new scents (and one who commented on how beautiful my skin was, and did I need any products to enhance it? You are a bad liar, sir.) and purchased my favorite black mascara, Hypnose by Lancome.

Rayne still was not ready. There was nothing left to do but go up to the women's floors.

I think you know where this is going.

I stopped at DKNY and perused the sales racks. (I only buy clothing on sale. Didn't you know? That's why I dress so badly.) There were a few dresses left over from the holiday season, and I had an idea. One of my best friends from college is getting married in LA in February, and clearly, the ten dresses in my closet would not do for such a momentous occasion.

I tried on a few that made me look like a stuffed sausage, but then there was one... a tomato-red A-line dress that fit me to a T(after sucking in my baby tummy). After donning my DKNY corset suit of armor body shaper, it would look perfect. It was on MEGA SALE. 79 PERCENT OFF.

Here it is:
A-line dress from DKNY.

I continued on my way, browsing the ridiculously expensive boutiques. Who can afford to dress like this? The only people buying full-price items were foreigners.

Maybe I should return this dress, I thought to myself in a classic case of buyer's remorse.

Then, I saw them.

Tomato-red, suede, peep-toe stilettos from UK brand Reiss.

And they were on sale. MEGA SALE. 70 PERCENT OFF. There were three pairs left, and one of those three was Euro size 37 -- MY SIZE. Fate had brought me to this place, and who was I to deny fate?

Here they are:
Monique heels from Reiss.

The entire outfit cost me $170. And it looks hot.

See you in Santa Monica, bitches.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Be the Change

Yesterday I marched across the Brooklyn Bridge for a rally at City Hall sponsored by One Million Moms For Gun Control (1MM4GC).

I went alone; no one was around or able to come with me. Rayne stayed home with Henry as it was frigidly cold this morning.

Regardless, it felt great.

Highlights included:

  • "26 Names," a song written by Tony-winning composer Jason Robert Brown for the Sandy Hook victims and sung by actress Montego Glover (Broadway credits include Memphis, The Color Purple, Dreamgirls). She sang the victims' names one by one in a beautiful melody that brought fresh tears to eyes that I thought were done crying over those poor babes and their teachers. I really like the post-Newtown sentiment of making a point to remember the names of those killed. So important yet so rare.
  • And of course, the final speech by 1MM4GC's founder, Shannon Watts, a mom from Indiana who became, as she said, "an accidental activist" after the Newtown tragedy.

Here are some photos of the event.

Gathering in Cadman Plaza.
Marching over the Brooklyn Bridge.
After the rally in City Hall Park.

Next stop: Washington DC on January 26 for the March on Washington for Gun Control, also co-sponsored by 1MM4GC.

There is a lot of momentum for change on this issue. Doing something beyond hand-wringing and crying feels awesome. Come to the march in DC if you can. Henry and I will be there!

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Can't Blame It On the Oatmeal Hands

Photo credit: K. Kendall
They were words I did not want to hear.

Losing collagen.

Fine lines.

Ew, gross.

(Okay, maybe not that last one.)

The woman giving me a facial was nice enough about it (as not all Bliss estheticians are), but I succumbed to panic and despair as she pointed out the increasingly evident signs of my aging.

The truth is, I'd noticed recently that I was looking, well, older. I had written it hopefully off as simply the fatigue that hovers around new mothers like a nerdy, annoying younger cousin.

Clogged pores? That's easy to explain: I constantly have little oatmeal-covered hands grabbing my face, not to mention a little oatmeal-covered mouth biting my cheeks.

Dry cheeks? No surprise there: I'm completely dehydrated. Can never seem to drink enough.

But clogged pores and dry cheeks are one thing; losing elasticity in your skin is quite another. It has nothing to do with oatmeal hands and everything to do with aging.

The extra weight, the slight paunch of my belly, the thinning of my increasingly gray hair, the deepening laugh lines and crows feet, the yellowing teeth... they all combine to make me despise reflective surfaces.

Henry will never know me as a young woman, the way I knew my own mother. Thank goodness for small miracles, I suppose. I'd like to believe he will benefit from having a mom who has come into her own in a way the disastrous tangle of youthful arrogance and hopeless self-loathing -- aka, my 25-year-old self -- had not yet done.

I have an idea. Could I look and feel (physically) like I did when I was 25 yet benefit from the almost 15 years of experience I've garnered since then?

Pretty please with a cherry on top?


Okay, then. I guess I will start using toner and glycolic acid exfoliating pads and all that jazz. Maybe some more sit-ups, too. Yeah, that should do it.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hudson, Voldemort and Hipsters All Owe Me a Pair of Jeans

Photo credit: Liz West
Yesterday morning was our Italian class at Centro Raccontami in the Flatiron District. Everyone was so well dressed last time that I put on a little mascara to spruce myself up a bit.

To get to class requires a 15-minutes walk plus two subways -- seven sets of stairs in all -- and it's a hell of a lot easier to strap Henry into the carrier and stash him inside my special Ergo Baby Papoose coat than to carry the stroller. The problem is he's getting heavy. Everyone raves about baby-wearing, but this is toddler-wearing, and I have neither the shoulders nor the upper body strength to glide effortlessly along with 20 pounds strapped to my chest.

Once bundled in, his little round head is the only thing sticking out of my enormous poofy coat. It's so cute, but to me he's like a little Voldemort. Remember in the first Harry Potter movie where Professor Quirrell carries Voldemort in his turban? Yeah, like that.

On our way, I had to take Hudson to doggy daycare because the cleaning lady was coming, and my poor, neurotic pup is afraid of the cleaning lady, the vacuum, any and all cleaning products as well as the closets and cabinets in which those products are housed. (While I realize these are all incredibly first-word problems -- I mean, did I really say "doggy daycare" and "cleaning lady" in the same sentence? -- they are, in fact, my problems.)

So I went outside in the drizzle holding Henry/Voldemort, my big heavy diaper bag, an umbrella and Hudson on a leash. Hudson made a beeline for the curb -- which I should be happy about, because I trained my dog to do his business on the curb instead of in the middle of the sidewalk -- to do a huge doggie dump in a gigantic puddle. Oh, Hudson.

A bus was stopped at the corner, and the driver watched from his perch with a mixture of incredulity and amusement as I tried to figure out how to bend down while not dropping anything on the wet ground.

Finally, I squatted slowly with one foot on the curb and one in the street.

Then I heard it: CCCRRRRPPPPPP.

My jeans. They had ripped down my inner left thigh, and not even on the seam.

But the poop was in the bag!

I laughed a loud, crazy non-laugh and looked at my watch. If I went upstairs to change I would be late for class. But I couldn't very well sit cross-legged on the floor for an hour in a room full of well dressed Italian women with a gaping hole in my crotch. No amount of mascara was going to make up for that.

Fine, I'd change. But somehow, on the way to the garbage pail in our dirty cement "courtyard," Hudson's shit fell out of the bag and onto the ground again. Then he stepped in it. I bent down again, feeling the tear grow to reveal even more of my gelatinous thigh. I definitely wasn't going back upstairs with Hudson's feet covered in his own shit.

Forget it, I thought. I'll just have to try to explain.

As I dropped Hudson off and walked to the subway, I rehearsed my story in Italian. Frankly, however, my Italian is too rusty these days for: "I ripped my jeans in the crotch while reaching into a puddle to pick up dog shit and then decided that I'd rather flash my thong at all of you than go all the way upstairs and track said shit into my apartment."


Waiting on the subway platform with me was an altogether androgynous Pat whose skinny pants featured one black leg and the other a sort of knock-off Burberry plaid. Why on earth...? Goddamn hipsters, I grumbled. I hate Brooklyn; I hate hipsters.

Photo credit: Guido Strotheide
I had to displace my anger somewhere, right?

On the train there were not one but two twenty-somethings with full-grown handlebar mustaches. I'm going to go out on a limb, here, and say that handlebar mustaches need to jump the damn shark already. I can't stomach another purposely messy, waifish, Carhartt-wearing hipster who is inexplicably smug over a possum-like growth on his face. IT WENT OUT OF STYLE FOR A REASON, DOUCHEBAG.

And while we're on the topic, all of Brooklyn, comb your collective hair. I mean, I am sleep-deprived and covered in milk. What's your excuse?

We finally arrived at 14th Street and 6th Avenue, and miracle of miracles, we were a little early. I had a brilliant idea -- I'd go to the nearest clothing store and buy a pair of pants or leggings.

And what was there to greet me when I exited the station? None other than the hipster mecca, Urban Outfitters.

Now that's a universal smack-down if I ever heard one.

I scanned the streets desperately to no avail -- there was nothing else that would work. At this point my options were:
1. Flash Italian moms with fat crotch;
2. Traipse around looking for a better store in the rain with Henry; or
3. Get my just deserts* and find something, anything, at UO.

The store was empty. I approached a salesgirl -- and I do not say girl lightly -- and asked where I could find leggings.

"Oh, they're downstairs," she replied.

Of course they are.

"Okay, thanks."

"But wait," she said hesitantly, "are you looking for, just, like, plain black leggings?"


"Well, we only have floral printed leggings down there."

"Floral printed?" GODDAMN HIPSTERS

"Yeah..." she trailed off.

"Hmmm. Is there somewhere else I could get plain black ones?"

"Yeah, you could try, like, Forever 21?"

"Okay, where is that?"

"Um, Union Square?"

"Union Square," I repeated, processing this information. That was three avenues away. Wasn't going to happen.

"Yeah," she continued. "Do you know where that is?"

I stared at her blankly. She thought I was a tourist. Because obviously no self-respecting New Yorker would go into Urban Outfitters at 10 on a Wednesday morning, greasy and disheveled, obviously too old and too large to be wearing UO fashions, with a silent little Voldemort peeking out of her coat.

"Yes," person who has not even been alive as long as I've lived in New York, "I know where it is. I'll just go downstairs and see what you have."

I went down yet another set of stairs, walked past the "Hipster Jokes" book (truth) and easily found a pair of black leggings.

"Can I wear these out if they fit?" I asked the dressing room girl.

"No, you'll have to go upstairs and pay for them first."

"Can you make an exception? I'm kind of carrying a heavy load here." I gestured to Voldemort and smiled.

"No, sorry," she drawled.

In the dressing room, I kicked off my Mom Clogs and stripped off my jeans with Henry, much to his delight, still in the carrier. I put on the leggings. They were fine. I took off the leggings. I put my jeans and Mom Clogs back on. I went upstairs and paid. I went back downstairs and took off my jeans and Mom Clogs. I put the leggings back on. They looked hot with the Mom Clogs. HOT.

By the time I reached Centro Raccontami, which is on the second floor of a rickety walk-up building, I was simultaneously sweating profusely and shivering.

I can't say Henry loved class. He just wants to examine things indefinitely and is not used to giving toys back so quickly. But then the big Italian Frog Puppet came out, and he giggled and laughed, and hugged and kissed it.

So I guess it was all worth it?

* Not "just desserts." Stop saying that! Click the link to find out why.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Evolution of a Toddler Tantrum

A play in 11 photos and 14 minutes.

Coming over to play at your desk, Moo Cow!


Emptying some more.

What's that? Let go of your freelance work?

Okay, I'll run away!

I'm back!

I want your phone now, Moo Cow.

Here I come!

Closing in!
Got it!


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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Truth In Advertising Doesn't Have to Hurt

I have a bone to pick with Ella's Kitchen.

I received Apple/Strawberry Nibbly Fingers, "gently baked whole grain oat finger bars," as a gift. They didn't seem too bad but I always check the ingredients to see what kind of processed numnum I might be about to feed my child.

First ingredient: organic whole grain oats. One gram of sugar and 7% daily value of protein per serving. Not bad. I mean, it doesn't have the 60% daily value of calcium and 20% daily value of potassium that my full pint of Stonyfield Farm Frozen Yogurt has, but not every meal can be as wholesome as that. Am I right?

But wait. (And here's the kicker.) Each Nibbly Finger, which is not even the size of a pen, has THREE SERVINGS:

Must we play this game even with kiddy food? C'mon, Ella's Dad -- I thought you Brits were above such silly games.

Let's call a spade a spade, shall we? Each Nibbly Finger has 90 organic calories, 3 organic grams of sugar, 3 organic grams of fat and 3 organic grams of protein. It's a perfectly fine mid-afternoon snack. Plus, Henry likes it.

There, that wasn't so hard, was it?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Italian Frog Puppets and Complete Strangers

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
Florence, Italy
Photo credit: Jasmic
Yesterday I took Henry to a trial Mommy & Me Italian Immersion class at Centro Raccontami in Manhattan.


This is why: Lo Zaino Invicta, or Why Henry Will End Up in Therapy. (Short version: Italian is my second language, and I have a lot of emotional baggage around it that I'd like to pass on to my son.)

The class was well done. We sang the alphabet and counted and played Eccolo! the Italian version of Peek-a-boo!

But it was also a little stressful. My Italian was rusty. And as with any new class, Henry spent most of it clinging to me for dear life. He doesn't even know the alphabet in English, let alone Italian.

Plus, Italians, well, they do things differently. Every time Henry put something in his mouth, the teacher told him to take it out. Contrast that with Music Together, a wholly American class with a separate "wet box" for all the toys that end up in children's mouths.

The instructor wore a form-fitting black knit sheath dress and black stockings to teach a class that mainly involved sitting on the floor and hugging children with a big frog puppet. I looked at my schlumpy Gap jeans and makeup-less face in the window's reflection and was like, for the seventy-thousandth time, God, I need to lose weight and start dressing better. Good thing we took our shoes off at the door so she didn't see my Mom Clogs (which I now wear every day, in case you were wondering).

Anyway, I signed up for the class. I know that if I don't speak Italian to Henry all the time, it won't matter, because he won't learn more than a few words or phrases. But I want to try.


Here's the part of the story that deserves the "Are You Kidding" label.

After class I slipped my Mom Clogs back on and bundled Henry up in my super awesome Ergo Baby Papoose Coat that I bought on clearance. I have the warmer winter version, and you can wear the baby on your chest or back. Here's what it looks like. See the little head sticking out? So cute! >>

On my way out, I called a friend to see if she was free for lunch. She wasn't, but we chatted for a few minutes. I thought about reaching into my bag for Henry's hat, but the subway was right outside the door to Centro Raccontami, it wasn't that cold and were only going to be five minutes. (I can't believe I am justifying myself.)

My friend was updating me on some health issues when I saw a man, maybe 60 years old, walking toward me and gesturing with a serious look on his face.

I narrowed my eyes in the universal silent communication of "What?" Was there a Tyrannosaurus behind me getting ready to chomp my head off? Why else would you be interrupting my phone call, complete stranger?

"Hat," he said, gesturing again, a bit more frantically. "Put a hat on the baby, it's cold out."

I. Almost. Lost. My. Mind.

"Really?" I said, turning to follow him down the street, like the hot-headed lunatic that I am. "Really? Is it cold out? I couldn't tell. Do you think I should put a hat on him? I wasn't sure. Thanks for letting me know," I yelled after him as he continued to walk away.

Excuse me, complete stranger, but did you carry this child in your uterus for nine months? No? Is that because he's not yours? Or because you don't even have a fucking uterus? Did you carry his nearly 20 pounds strapped to your chest inside a parka made for the Arctic Circle, for an hour from the ass-end of Brooklyn to the Flatiron District, sweating and late and trying not to trip down the subway stairs and kill yourself and him?

Did you?


Are you me?



Then, for the love of all that is holy, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

What is it with people?

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

7 Fun Games to Play With Milk

In honor of absolutely no occasion whatsoever, Henry would like to offer all the other babies and tots following along some games to play while getting your bottle or sippy cup of milk before bed.

1. Take a mouthful of milk and then just open your mouth and see what happens. Giggle.

2. Shake your head repeatedly while laughing maniacally so your Moo Cow can't get the spout in your mouth. Giggle.

3. Throw the sippy cup or bottle on the floor. Scream.

4. Use your bat reflexes and octopus appendages to block the spout from entering your mouth. Scream.

4. Use your fingers to play with the nipple or spout. Giggle.

5. Bite and chew on the nipple or spout. Giggle.

6. Gargle milk and then blow bubbles, spraying it everywhere. Giggle.

7. Use your Moo Cow's nose as a handle to shake her head 'yes' and 'no' over and over. Giggle.

God I hate the smell of milk.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Gimme the Goods, Moo Cow

Photo credit: helenmoverland
Can we talk about how awesome it is to bottle feed Henry?

Far be it from me to bury the lede: It is not awesome.

So far, I've cut out two of four nursing sessions, replacing them each with 5-6 oz. of whole milk per my new pediatrician's instructions after seeing that Henry was below the third percentile in weight. ("But I swear I feed him! He's just had a stomach virus for a week!" Bad. Mom. Award.)

It's not that he won't take the cow's milk. It's just that he clearly would rather be gnawing on my boob. As a result, he becomes distracted and flails around, sending milk everywhere.

It's like I need a body condom just to feed him. (I think those are called raincoats, but let's not mince words.)

Also, he hasn't quite grasped the physics of the bottle yet, since he's had so little practice. He can hold it, but he doesn't tip it back. So he sucks on it and doesn't get anything.

I mean, he can get milk from the Moo Cow in any position, right? What's the deal?

Then he decides he might as well chew on the nipple, so I pull it out of his mouth and he goes ballistic. Flailing, head butting, milk everywhere, body condom. Et cetera.

Do I have to explain this to you again?
Gimme the goods, Moo Cow.
We usually finish the bottle, although not always. But it takes for-ever. Rayne's tried to throw in the towel after two or three ounces while on bottle duty, but I force him back into the baby cave nursery to finish. No rest for the weary.

Then there's that whole psychological bullshit that my supply is going down, and if I had to feed him exclusively I couldn't, not that I would want or need to feed him exclusively since we live in New York in the 21st century, but the point is I am shutting a door and I don't like shutting doors, it makes me feel anxious and write run-on sentences.


Someday this will get easier, right? And we'll look back on it and laugh?

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Parenting Is Like Skiing, But Harder

Rayne's primary motivation for my weaning Henry is for us to go away on a ski weekend. He grew up on the west coast, so skiing anything less than Vermont is a total joke to him.

Me, I'm from a klutzomanic family. I like to ski, but that's not the same as being good at it.

The last time I went skiing was in Park City, Utah during the Sundance Film Festival (amazing, btw, you must go) two months before I got pregnant with Henry. It was my first time skiing out west, and I readily admit its superiority. Whereas in the east you are lucky to skid down a layer of ice, in the west carving fresh powder is a quotidian fact of life.

After skiing all week on perfect powder, I was feeling kind of cocky. I sped happily down an "easy" Green trail with a big dose of hubris coursing through my veins.

You all read King Lear in high school, right? What happens to be people with hubris? They FALL.

I was actually on the flat end of the trail when it happened. It was around 3:30 pm, and the temperature had begun to drop. A day of people skiing straight down the end of that easy hill had created slick ridges. My ski must have caught the edge of one because the next thing I knew, I was tumbling head over heels.

The offending ski popped off right away. On the first tumble, I hit my head and remember thinking, "Thank goodness I'm wearing a helmet."

I had that thought about three more times as I continued to somersault, bouncing each time on my noggin -- kind of like a gymnast, except not at all -- before skidding to a stop around 100 yards from where the first ski had abandoned ship. Every piece of equipment -- skis, poles, goggles, gloves -- was strewn about the slope.

Yard Sale!

Amazingly, my body was intact, which is more than I can say for my pride.

And so it is with parenting. Some days you are acutely aware that you are snow plowing down a Double Black Diamond trail, headed toward a fork whose options include "moguls" or "straight off a cliff." Other days you speed -- cocksure and oblivious -- down a sloping Green trail until you suddenly tumble head-first onto the craggy rocks of reality.

It's humbling, I'll say that much.

With parenting, though, as with little else, there is no choice but to pick up your poles and goggles and keep going. That singular distinction continues to awe me every day of little Henry's life.

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Guest Post: Dear Bloomberg Help Desk

[Ed. note: This post is by Hudson, my neurotic Corgi. The Bloomberg Terminal is a computer system used by finance professionals. Its Help Desk (which can be activated by selecting "Help" twice on the terminal's keyboard) has become singularly unhelpful when troubleshooting. 

The post is best read in the voice of Dug the Dog from the 2009 animated motion picture Up. Here, watch this short YouTube clip that introduces Dug. I'll wait. 

Okay, done? Good. Here we go.]

Dear Bloomberg Help Desk,

Help. Help. Over the past year, I have tried all your suggestions for getting rid of a baby:

Refusing to look at the baby

Asking Mom to send the baby back (with my eyes)

Eating the baby's spoon

Eating the baby's toys

Eating the baby's food (seems to be the only perk)


Trying to leave him with the other cousins

Barking and growling at the baby 
(NB: REALLY BAD ADVICE! Take that off your list, Bloomberg Help Desk. It is not help-ful.)

None of these strategies has succeeded. Bloomberg Help Desk, I am desprate desperite despearate losing my puppy mind. Just look at what I have to put up with:

High-pitched screams

Baby in my face night and day

Being a prop for blog photos

The baby's scary walking contraption

Hudsy Jail 

Tired Mom who doesn't want to play with me anymore :(

I have heard talk of endless fetch when the baby is older. But since my attention span is only 45 seconds long, it is hard for me to hope that far in the future.

Please advise (again) on how to get rid of a baby.


Hudson CG

PS - Tonight the baby alternated between banging her phone and poking her belly button. I would never get away with that.

PPS - Not neurotic. Why does she always say that?

[Ed. note: Yes, he is.]

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