Saturday, August 19, 2017

The NYC Ferry

Samuel went to the beach with a friend today, and Ethan and I slept too late for an all-day adventure, so I suggested we try the new NYC ferry, which launched earlier this summer.

Ethan said, "To where?"

I said, "I don't know. Who cares?"

We rode from Wall Street to Governor's Island, then north up the Brooklyn shoreline, and finally back to Manhattan.

$5.50 well spent.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Jet skiing in Jamaica Bay

This was a biggie on the summer bucket list, both psychologically and financially, and we crossed it off today.

Jet ski rentals don't come easy or cheap in NYC. Most places offer "guided tours" instead of rentals, presumably so they can charge more money while keeping a closer eye on the idiots who drive up their insurance premiums.

We had to go all the way out to Rockaway Beach, a nearly 4-hour round-trip subway ride from the Upper West Side. We would've rented a car but the jet ski rental was $160/hour. We needed to cut costs somewhere.

Samuel and Ethan were up first.

While they were gone I took a few buff selfies. I figured Samuel would be putt-putting around at 20 miles an hour the whole time, but they informed me later that they "got it up to 38." So I look calmer than I should have looked.

When Ethan and I went out, he immediately said, "Dad, can I drive?"

I said, "Son, you know the rules state that operators must be 18 or older. Letting you drive wouldn't be legal or ethical. I'm shocked that you would ask."

A few minutes later I had been thrown from the jet ski due to an overly sharp turn into a wake. It turns out there probably is a good reason for the rule after all.

FYI, this is the last photo ever taken of me wearing my black running cap. 

But three thumbs up for jet skiing.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


The boys are with Jen tonight.

I needed to write a manuscript, even a sloppy rough draft, just to force myself to get something down on paper, even if I hate it tomorrow.

Tonight's manuscript was about an old bulldozer and a young bulldozer who dig two tunnels that connect in the middle.

“Husky,” said Mac,
“The sandbox is wide.”
“Don’t worry,” said Husky,
“we’ll dig from each side.”

They smiled at each other,
One little, one big,
Then they lowered their blades
And they started to dig.

I miss my boys when they're not here. But I like writing love stories.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The ice caves at Sam's Point

They're not really caves so much as deep crevices, and they're not made out of ice. But they are kind of cold inside. And there is natural spring water that you can drink from the stream (I did).

The ice caves were on our Summer Bucket List, and today we crossed them off.

Sam's Point is the highest point of a large ridge, and the views were impressive.

Here's the trail leading down to the ice caves.

And down...

There were stone steps in most places, so while the hike itself required some stamina it wasn't physically exhausting or particularly difficult. 

Oh, I made a friend. Of course, it's not enough for me to just say hi and move on. #iamwhoiam

We had fun. It's fun to go on adventures with my boys, to put my personal cares on a back burner for a while and just be in the moment with them. Everything will be okay. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Why is there love?

Why is there love?

Why doesn't it last?

Why doesn't it bind us to each other and become stronger and stronger? Why does it sometimes weaken?

Why isn't love the foundation for everything else? Why doesn't it start and end there?

Why does it sometimes seem like love's only purpose is to perpetuate the gene pool?

Why are people who have been through love so wary of loving again?

Why are so many people alone, so late in life?

Do they not want to be in love? 

Have they given up?

Do they not know how great love is?

Friday, August 4, 2017

Everyone is miserable

This is what people tell me:

"I'm in a great place. It's been rough, but I feel like I've finally turned a corner."

"It's hard sometimes. But I try to laugh every day. That's the secret."

"It's not perfect. No marriage is. I'm happy with myself, and that's all I can control."

"I finally met someone who accepts me for who I am, who asks me about my needs. And I finally feel like, okay, I can breathe again. We've been dating for a couple of weeks now."

"I'll tell you, when my kids were finally out of the house and the hubby and I split, I was lonely, I'll admit. It's hard. But for the first time in my life, I feel completely free."

"It took me a long time to get to this place. I just needed to give myself permission to be happy. It's a process. I'll get there."

"I'm loving life right now. I have my ups and downs, like everyone. I miss being touched. I miss being held. So...but, yeah. I've never been happier."

Monday, July 31, 2017

What is it about 2-year-olds?

This is my two-year-old neighbor, E. (Her parents might not care if I use her full name, but I didn't ask, so I won't.) 

Every time I see her she makes me smile, and I stop whatever I'm doing to say hi and try to make her smile too, which she almost always does.

The pictures are her "walking" Kahlua. She "walks" Bailey too, but it usually ends with him pulling away and leaving her on the sidewalk on her tush. But she happily lifts herself up and skitters toward Kahlua instead, who isn't as fast.

Last week I was walking past a playground and saw E with her dad. I shouted, "I'm coming in!," then proceeded to play and chase and jump around with E for the next 20 minutes.

It was the highlight of my day.

I saw her again yesterday on the sidewalk and said, "Hey! Where do you think you're going??" And she giggled, and I said, "Whatever you do, don't come over here!" And she giggled again and lurched toward me, then giggled and ran back to her mom's legs. Then I said it again, and she did it again.

It was the highlight of my day.

I like people of all ages, but there's something about a two-year-old that's more magical than any other age. Human beauty peaks at age two. It's my favorite number for a person. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Brigsby Bear

We had a New York moment tonight. Ethan wanted to see a new movie called "Brigsby Bear," but none of his friends wanted to go.

So Samuel and I agreed to go see it with him. I scanned Fandango and said, "It's playing in Lincoln Square at 10pm, or in 45 minutes on Houston Street."

Ethan voted for now, so we headed downtown. The theater was so packed that we had to sit at the very front.

I could tell immediately why Ethan wanted to see it. It was very Ethanesque.

At the end of the movie no one got up from their seats, even after the credits ended. There were three director's chairs immediately in front of us, facing the audience, and suddenly the star and director of the movie were sitting down to be interviewed.

I whispered to Samuel and Ethan, "Glad you guys chose this showing. Only in New York."

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Indoor rock climbing

It was rainy today, and it didn't seem worth it to rent a car, so we stayed in Manhattan. It was a toss-up between hitting golf balls at Chelsea Piers and indoor rock climbing. Samuel broke the tie.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Ten Tiny Toes: the board book

The board book version of Ten Tiny Toes is slowly coming to life. My editor at Little, Brown asked if I'd like to approve the final version before it goes to press.

I said no, but send it anyway because it will make me smile.

It did.

For context, a board book is a smaller and sturdier version of a picture book. Think Very Hungry Caterpillar. A baby can chew on it without anyone freaking out.

Ten Tiny Toes was published in 2012 as a picture book. It was my second book, and I was more excited about it than my first book, because, I figured, anyone can get lucky and write one book. You gotta have at least two books to call yourself an author.

When I got the email from my agent that she'd sold Ten Tiny Toes, it was the first time I felt like, okay, maybe I'm actually going to be a children's author after all.

It was a big deal that Marc Brown illustrated it.

When asked in an interview about the inspiration for Ten Tiny Toes, he said:

"Well, I can't speak for Todd, although I do know that he has kids. And from what I can tell, he's a really good dad, because his feeling about babies and children and parenting comes through in such an honest and heartwarming way. I read it to a group of teachers out on the West Coast, and people were sobbing in the audience when I read it, they were so moved."

It was a big deal that I could literally walk into any Barnes & Noble in the country and see it.

But mostly it's meaningful to me because it's about Samuel and Ethan, and how much I loved them as babies, and how much I loved watching them grow up, and how much I will love them forever. It's my love letter to them, in a time capsule.

I'm anxious to see it as a board book, and I hope lots of babies chew on it.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Rye Playland 2017

It wasn't on the Summer Bucket List, but the weather was nice, it was close, and we hadn't been there in a long time.

We started on a twisty coaster called Super Flight that you ride standing up.

Then we braved the old wooden Dragon Coaster, which is only two years younger than the Coney Island Cyclone.

Ethan and I rode the Log Flume.

Samuel was traumatized on this ride at age three and has never gone on it since. Here's the traumatic moment immortalized on a Father's Day mug.

But we digress. We rode Starship 2000 (a spinning g-force ride), the Yo-Yo (flying swings), the SkyFlyer (an upside-down spinner), a haunted house ride, the Playland Plunge (just me and Ethan again), and one more trip on the Dragon Coaster before heading home. Fun to ride the big-kid rides, fun to see toddlers and little kids having fun (alternating with meltdowns), fun to eat chicken strips and cotton candy.

Despite being a hot, sunny Sunday in mid-July, the park wasn't that crowded. 

I love the fact that it's historic (opened in 1928) and that they've maintained many of the original buildings and several of the original rides. It's cheaper and closer than Dorney Park or Six Flags, and although it doesn't match those parks for thrills, it's a throwback to simpler times.

Speaking of throwbacks to simpler times...

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A teeny little sliver of a smile

My heart is the emotional equivalent of Mosul. It's war-torn and full of wreckage and devastation and smoldering ruins.

But it had a teeny little sliver of a smile this week. I know that's a mixed metaphor. I don't care.

Who knows? Optimism and pessimism and an open heart and it's good to hope but don't hope too much and it all blends together and it feels kinda good in a teenage scary butterflies kinda way that overpowers the jaded, I-will-die-alone-and-unloved kinda way. A teeny little sliver of a smile that starts in my heart and makes its way down to my toes and up to my face and it sneaks out, peeks out to the world, and I'm not gonna try to pretend it isn't there and I'm not gonna try and squash it, because I'm pretty f-ing thankful to have a sliver of a smile in my heart right now.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Flowers in the window boxes...again

The Spring flowers looked magnificent, but they were more expensive than the building anticipated, and they didn't last as long as we hoped.

So our flower boxes sat naked for the past month while we came up with a new plan.

Voila. The new flowers were delivered yesterday. They look great. All is well again.

No, this is not about my life.

Okay, maybe the part about sitting naked for the past month.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Lemon Squeeze at Mohonk

Four down, four to go on the Summer bucket list.

Today we climbed the Labyrinth/Lemon Squeeze. It's a trail on the grounds of the Mohonk Mountain House, an old Victorian resort in New Paltz. The hotel is outrageously expensive, but they sell day passes for hiking the surrounding trails for $27. (Still not cheap, but less than $1,150/night for a room.)

The Labyrinth/Lemon Squeeze entails climbing over boulders, squeezing through narrow rock passages, and scaling occasional hand-hewn wooden ladders.

No harnesses were required, but it was definitely physically taxing.

Eventually we emerged atop a 300-foot cliff overlooking--well, everything.  

We feel more manly for having done it.

Even Ethan, king of the bedroom laptop, said, "That was fun! I'm glad we did that!"

Me too.

There is a lot I don't enjoy about being single. But I'm enjoying being a boy with my boys.