Saturday, June 28, 2008

I Hear My Neighborhood Singing

Lo, the shopping cart gleams on the uncut grass, ferocious in its splendor. The tin of discarded ketchup: a psalm to the morn, like the throaty red of the songbird.

What three stood here, talking of the depth of being, of life, of mortality, of the arduous journeys of the souls of men? And then, with casual jollity, tossed their butts to the earth, where they lie quiescent and blameless?

The rusted fence, so artfully askew, is corroded as much as is my property value, which decays amid the entropy of all things.

A front porch no place for a treadmill? Nay, nay! Strike such outdated assumptions from your credo, for treading manfully on a porch brings the freshening air and the songs of vehicular traffic. O, joy! O, brisk winds off Route 95!

Stop! I say, stop! Stop your petty judgments, for this is Art, and not to be trod upon by any narrow-minded philistine.

My husband conjured up a rainbow, and it delivers fresh hope to the north. We shall follow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Found a Bargain in SoNo New Ro!

Shopping is booming in downtown New Ro. Merchants and environmentally-minded citizens are now calling the trendy area South of North Avenue "SoNo New Ro," and the hip and fab offerings are plentiful. (What does this make the area North of North Avenue--NoNo New Ro...??) On a recent excursion to the area, I discovered just what a few bucks will buy in the SoNo stores. Get there now before the prices skyrocket!

On Main Street's New Elegant Beauty Supply, you can get a hair product made with collagen and placenta. Yes, that's right, placenta! And for a few dollars more, some fresh baby to go with that—works fabulous on brittle split ends.

At the same store, we found Doo Gro. I don't know about you, but I don't know if I want my "doo" to grow. This product made me nervous, but what could go wrong? Doo Grow BIG! Plumber!

Just down the street at Craftform Intimate Apparel/Anatomical Supports (all under one awning!) this lovely lounge outfit was featured. This lady is coming off a seven-day crack bender complete with gang-bang, and she still looks fresh and ready for her first morning shot of gin. Her wrist is broken because she walked into a door, and it's really none of your business, sister.

And across the street at Smart Dollar, bargains abound. I found this great Medical Kit for the kiddies. It includes two weird egg-shaped bedpans, some cutting tools, a tiny scale for weighing organs, and crazy-eyes Yuyitsu, the maniacal doctor. She's so sad about it, but she need to sedate you with tiny green pill bottles.

Also at Smart Dollar: a fetching latex swim cap, the label on which reminds me of a film noir promo. "As Chubby Thighs Magee drowns in Black Lake, her twin sister looks on in horror." Also protects against STDs.

For those inclined to fashion, try Madrag, also on Main Street. There you can find this eye-popping, fruit-flavored outfit. And tons more slutty choices inside. Just like the silver mannequin's stance, it shouts "You wanna piece of this?"

At Alicia's Bakery, also on Main Street, you can get a yummy-looking cake with your child's photo embedded in it. Except that it somehow looks like the child got baked into the cake. And isn't happy about it. And the cake is for a funeral party, not a birthday. Oh, well!

And what of poor NoNo New Ro? What do they have to offer? Well, for one, this creepy discarded item, lying in the shrubbery. It consisted of a pair of undies duct-taped to a pair of socks duct-taped to a plastic bag duct-taped to...who knows. Basically, it looked like something someone had doused in oil and used as a flaming brand. That's HOT! Love the neighborhood!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Silkie's Saloon: An Intimate Nesting Place

Question of the Week.
What goes on beyond the doors of the mysterious New Rochelle venue on Main Street: Silkie's Saloon, an Intimate Nesting Place? Please deliver any eyewitness information to the management of this blog for further investigation.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Eviction of the First Son: Chapter One

Ok, I realize that with a newborn on site my blog entries have become embarrassingly thin. So I'm going to offer up for your entertainment something rather old: The birth story of my first son, delivered in installments. Just like sons # 2 and # 3, he was late. He was the latest of all. (FYI: Comments will get the next installment to appear faster, thou lurkers who like to contact me via my Yahoo account.) Herewith, Part One.

My son’s due date is October 31st, my own birthday, the day I will turn 35. This slim fortuity has prevented my pregnancy being classified with the insulting term “senile gravida,” and kept at bay offers of amniocentesis and genetic counseling. Because I intend to be a young mother (a vibrant 34) and not an old, haggard mother (a dreary 35), I am convinced he will arrive on time. In my ideal plan, he will arrive at 12:01 a.m. on my birthday so we can be home in time to dress the baby in his Halloween costume, invite some good friends over to party, toast one another with icy-cold martinis…you know, the kinds of things one does in postpartum recovery. I begin my maternity leave two weeks prior to my due date, on October 17th. Coworkers look on; the office busybody (“Oooh, I’m surprised there’s room on the elevator for anyone else!”) raises her eyebrows as if he’ll burst forth before I reach home.

But baby’s due date comes and goes. I spend Halloween night handing out candy on the stoop, dressed in an unspeakable orange wig as a big, fat pumpkin. One week later, the baby’s empty-handed grandmother catches a return flight back home to Georgia. We head in for one non-stress test and amniotic fluid check, then another. Each time the nurse reports that the baby is “perfectly happy.” We decide that he is quite stubborn, and I predict that his teen years will be spent indoors listening to mope rock with the shades drawn.

I take Evening Primrose Oil to “ripen the cervix” and drink Red Raspberry Leaf tea to “tone the uterus.” I hear that walking spurs on labor, so I plod around the neighborhood, gazing at the lame and embarrassing items that people decide to sell at Brooklyn stoop sales. Sometimes I get sharp pains in the cervical region, as if baby is sticking me with a penknife. I go home and the pains subside. I hike back out again, this time to the pool to swim. The baby and I are at one, smooth through the water. A shrewish old lady slits her eyes at my belly. She warns me that my water might break in the pool, and I wouldn’t even know it. So stay on dry land, missy! Maybe the old bird is right. I go home and wait, but labor fails to begin.

I try acupuncture. The first thin needles go into the meaty, fat part between thumb and forefinger, which the acupuncturist pinches in a raised hump to get a better grip on it. He places the needle, and then taps it in gently as if he’s securing a nail with a hammer. Then he gives it a small flex and twist; as this happens, my fingers grasp involuntarily. A small arc of electricity flares up through my wrist. He places a needle a few finger widths above each anklebone; two more needles go in somewhere halfway up the shins. When one of these is inserted and twisted into place, a shocking, electric stab shoots through the sole of my left foot into the air, and is gone. The baby kicks within, jolted.

The acupuncturist also applies tiny balls, no bigger than grains of sand, to four specific meridian points within each ear. Each ball rests inside a small, sticky square, and they are pressed tightly in place. The balls, he says, are to alleviate pain during labor. All I have to do is press them and—pain be gone! This is exciting news.

He returns every ten minutes. With a quick twist of the needles in my hands, hot little jolts fire up my arms. With my eyes shut, I imagine that he’s turning the knob on a faucet of electromagnetic liquid, and the faucet—fat as an inch across—is juicing this stuff directly into my veins. My second, ring, and pinky fingers begin to go numb. The color of the ceiling is a warm, buttery yellow. I tilt my head, first left, then right, to tip tears out onto the pillow.

I think: Perhaps the baby stays within because I want him there. He and I are friends; we go places together. He’s a second, fond heartbeat, a coiled spring. I shall not let him go, because winter is coming.

Finally, the acupuncturist extracts the needles. As each comes out I feel a jittery pinch. He presses each site with moist gauze.
“Where is hospital?” he asks. “Hospital close by?”
“Why? Do I need to go straight there now?”
“Baby tonight maybe,” he says.

I go home and finish packing my hospital bag, then wait. A week later, the baby still hasn’t come. It’s not that I think the acupuncture was a fraud. Rather, I think that this baby and I have outwitted it in our apparent quest to stay together.

After eleven days have passed since the due date with nary a cervical dilation, the doctor finally suggests eviction. We agree to check in to the hospital (NYU Downtown) that night, a Tuesday. The date is November 11th. As the day wears on, I feel like I am preparing for my last meal. The hospital, once benign, is now death’s foyer. I contemplate calling the doctor and telling her I have changed my mind. But the call is never placed. Inaction forces the decision, and by 7:00 p.m. husband and I are in the car on the way to the hospital. As we pull out from the parking space, a stray branch catches on the undercarriage of the car and creaks alarmingly, and I think all at once: The car will break down, and no cabs will be available, and I can go home and never go into labor at all and never suffer any pain whatsoever but at the same time I will cease being pregnant and the baby will magically appear. But the branch is released, and we are released, flung out toward our inevitable destination.

Shuffles, We Hardly Knew Ye

OK, I lied, I have another blog post in me. Barely.

It looks like we have a buyer for our home, although contracts are not yet signed. And of course I have mixed feelings about the whole prospect of moving an entire family of five and all their accoutrement, especially since I don't know where we're moving. We do have three cars, so we figure that's three separate rooms for each of us. The boys can share the Jetta and thoroughly trash it with their crumbs and detritus, and the baby gets the Passat. We'll bunk down in the SUV.

The truth is, saying goodbye to Shuffles and her ilk will be sweet sorrow. The house is a good, solid place, and we're leaving it better than we found it. Good karma in that, right? There's a fine fat blueberry bush in the backyard about to bear fruit, and our wild raspberry patch has just delivered its first crop (the second arrives in late summer, too late for us to enjoy it). We'll also miss the harvest of the cherry tomatoes, peppers, and cukes—someone else will be feasting on those. And lo, the great chestnut tree. That tree is a beauty. I think I'll miss the rampant plonking of chestnuts atop car roofs this fall most of all; my boys collect them like treasure and line them up along the front yard. Pockets turned out at end of day, in autumn, always reveal a hoarded chestnut or two.

Even the insistent thrum of the trucks beyond the fence has become familiar. Three hoochies stuffed into tube tops just strolled down our street, enjoying the night air, and a bonehead driving too fast the wrong way up our one-way street can always be anticipated. (As my # 1 son says, "You always have to look both ways when crossing a street because there might be an idiot going the wrong way.")

Today on my walk with the infant, I spotted a shopping cart leaning up against a rusty fence. Right down the block, I saw where the city has torn up lovely old bluestone sidewalk slates and replaced them with concrete. The slates are lying there abandoned. Some thuggish types were tossing a ball in the street. It may well be that this neighborhood will "turn around" in a few years and the houses will shoot up in value, but some of the people who live here probably don't care for those pioneering Brooklynites who thought they would forge a path into the wilderness. They don't care about "turn arounds." That's just for snobs like us. They just want a place to live.

Then, of course, you get the opinion of the outsider. My good pal just arrived from Billyburg on Friday and sat on our porch. "This is delightful," she pronounced. "What a great place. What a great house!" And indeed, it is. We'll miss it (provided that the contract gets signed.) I'll miss my boys running around the house in sweeping circles, through kitchen, music room, living room. "Say boo when I run past!" they command. And we do, hiding in the few corners and snatching at their unwary legs as they shriek. Not too long ago, the elder boy dragged the younger--just learning to run--each clasping one end of an uncoiled Slinky. The younger would get left behind and then--sproing!!--would stagger to catch up as the Slinky hauled him forward. They run, their legs get longer, and they are lean and strong.

When they see our older neighbor, they scream a welcome like he's their very own granddad. And run to him, asking to help carry trowels or swab down his truck. They have a "rock garden" behind the garage with trucks and buckets filled with supplies, including leaves and dirt and clippings from the hedge. Wearing their little French Foreign Legion style sunhats, they work back their with the assiduous nature of those who expect to earn a large paycheck for their labors. Sometimes they pinch a half-ripe raspberry or dig too close to the pansies.

It's their world, and it's a fine one. They'll remember nothing but good of this place.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Evil Dentist

This is a cautionary tale for those of you who are looking for a good dentist in the New Rochelle area.

When my little boys needed their first dental visit, I got a few names from Met Life and scheduled an appointment for both of them with Dr. Nolan Krinick of New Rochelle. He was close and convenient, and claimed to be a pediatric dentist.

We arrived and noticed that the office stank of cigar smoke. This was a bad sign, but maybe Dr. Krinick's fellow tenant in the building was responsible? There were also no child-friendly items in the waiting room, but maybe Dr. Krinick was just all about teeth and no frills. The place was kind of dingy, too, and the receptionist was a crummy-looking old bird.

The boys were clearly terrified but we told them it was OK, the dentist was just going to look at their teeth. Dentists are nice guys! When he came in, he looked annoyed to see children in his office. In fact, hatred and disdain for children dripped from the man's countenance. If he had snarled and a a bead of saliva had dripped from one unnaturally-sharpened fang, I would not have been surprised.

He glared at them impatiently and barked out: "Who's first?" We tried the older boy in the chair first, but he was so struck with terror that we decided to put the little one in the chair instead. The dentist tried without avail to open the boy's mouth, and then turned to us with a gesture of complete impatience. "I can't conduct the exam if he won't cooperate!" he muttered. "Open the kid's mouth!"

How? "Hang him upside down," said Doctor Krinick. "That gets them to open their mouths."

Invoking a spirit of fun sort of thing, we actually tried--for about two seconds. (How horrid to admit.) Our little boy screamed, his mouth opened, and the dentist peeked inside. He muttered that the frenum--a little flap of skin/muscle--between our boy's upper gum and upper lip needed to be clipped or he'd have hideous dental problems later. "I'll do it right now, if you want," he said. He practically chortled.

No, thanks. We fled his horrible office, reciting things to the boys such as "Not all people are bad." We later found a nice dentist, Doctor Allen Greenberg, who remarked that the "clipping of the frenum" comment was a load of horseshit. "Whoever said that is an idiot," he added.

Now, whenever we drive past Krinick's office, the boys make evil noises. "Not all dentists are bad!" my boys chirp from the back. "But some dentists are very bad!"

Postscript 1: A while back, we decided to go and view a house in New Rochelle. We arrived and noticed that the house stank of cigar smoke. While touring the place (which was dreadful), my husband rounded a corner and came upon the owner...who else but...Doctor Nolan Krinick!

Postscript 2: A while back my boys were playing doctor, which always involves making calls on a telephone.

Younger: Who is this?
Elder: The doctor!
Younger: Can you fix my tummy pain?
Elder: Oh no, I can't do that.
Mommy: I thought you were a doctor.
Elder: Actually, I am an evil dentist. I am Doctor Krinick!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Realist Hate Obsession

Time for a confession: The real reason this blog has been so sporadic lately is not due to the Incorrigible Suckling Infant alone. It is due to my fervent obsession with real estate. Yes, as soon as the Infant is attached, I begin scanning the listings. Just suppose a beautiful 1895 Victorian charmer has popped up in the last 22 minutes, since his last feeding! Just suppose I missed it and someone else snapped it up!

Unfortunately, most of what I find are squat, dismal 1968 ranches. Although 1968 was a good year for spawning Party Ponies, it was a bad year for architecture. Such dwellings routinely tout the virtues of the neighborhood and the Corian countertops, but coming home to your shitbox every night is not assuaged by the wet bar in the basement. Honestly, when did architects look with pride upon a design that looks like a cheap shoebox with windows cut out of it? If I wanted to live in a child's diorama version of a house I'd drop some acid and start fashioning clothespin dolls and thread-bobbin furniture for company.

What's even scarier is the Incredibly Bad Taste of so many people who put their homes on the market. A giant, leering portrait of the family children, hovering above a glass-topped dining room table in a mirrored dining room, should be hidden in the attic, or burnt. One particular house that we are mighty fond of, despite some of the most godawful carpets made by disgruntled machines, is absolutely riddled from top to bottom with Easter Bunny paraphernalia. Eggs, stuffed rabbits, the lot. Why, of all things, would one choose the Easter Bunny as a design theme? The one consolation is that the Bunny + carpets + acoustic ceiling tile may have scared off any competitive buyers.

When we bought our own home, it had stucco ceilings. We paid someone to hoist himself up there on a ladder and scrape off all that miserable stucco. And every night when we lie in bed, we praise Jesus that we are not staring up at stalactites that were someone's good idea of a design theme in the 70s. "Who likes stucco ceilings?" I sneered, as the fellow was scraping away. "I like stucco," he said, rather sadly. Good god!

We like our own house an awful lot. At least the prior owners had the decency to leave the crown moldings intact. (Who decides to remove crown moldings? "Yeah, just tear that useless stuff off--we'll pay for the disposal fees.") So what if our location includes a certain individual named Shuffles? So what if people leave hanks of hair and pantyhose on the street? It's all good. But we're selling it anyway.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


The other day while trapped in a chair nursing the incorrigible suckling infant, I wanted something to read. So I reached around and patted around in the bookcase behind me and drew out a slim volume, sight unseen. What had I picked? Why, Lord of the Flies! The perfect, classic accompaniment to a houseful of three boys and a sleep-deprived, over-emotional mother.

I proceeded to reacquaint myself with the heartwarming tale, not read since high school lit. And then I read all the critical essays in the back of the book, including questions on whether Golding is ultimately pessimistic or optimistic about the human spirit, examinations of the killing of the sow (vaguely sexual?), and Simon's role as a martyred Christ-figure (Simon, as you may recall, is killed in a orgiastic frenzy by a pack of boys wielding spears, just as he tries to bring them a message of salvation.)

This is quite heady stuff at 3:00 a.m.! It's great to read this sort of thing when one is liable to post-partum meltdowns without provocation. Anyway, I was just getting to the part where poor, fat, bespectacled Piggy (shorn of his specs) is dinged by a boulder and flung into the ocean, whereupon his brains spill out on a rock.

The incorrigible suckling infant was attached, as always, and I could hear my older boys down in their room playing something they called "Animal House."

It sounded OK at first. But then: "Kill Clifford!" they shouted, suddenly. "Kill Snoopy!" The noise got louder as did the cries for blood.

"Kill Stinky Teddy! Kill Clean Teddy!"

"Kill! Kill!"

"I killed dose animals and now dey is DEAD."

"Now I am gonna kill your snake. Ha! He is DEAD."

"All the animals is dead and they was never heard from again! The end!"

I closed Lord of the Flies with a small shudder.