31 May 2013


I love staying in the city for holidays.  It's quiet and you don't have to deal with traffic.  Having everybody else leave is the ultimate staycation isn't it?

The Saturday of Memorial Day weekend poured buckets of rain, but Sunday emerged fresh as the morning dew, sunny and clear.  We decided to take a bike ride to Staten Island by way of a boat.  Sam, in his 13 years in New York, has never taken the Staten Island Ferry, so we set out with snacks and sunblock with Roan as copilot.

The one mistake we made was deciding to cross to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge, which was 5 deep with lumbering tourists.  They ambled into the bike lane, slow to react to my shouts to GET OUT OF THE WAY.  Finally a fellow cyclist with an alarmingly shrill whistle came to our rescue.  
Moving on...
Riding to the terminal we passed the line for the ferry to Governors Island, which I think I have blogged about before.  The line was two hours long. What?  Insane. 

The Staten Island ferry might be the best public transportation this city has to offer.  It's free, leaves every half hour on the dot, and has incredible views.

Manhattan Skyline

Gulls ride the waves

We actually had no plan for what to do when we got there, so we just took a left.  It started off pretty industrial and there was still a lot of damage from Hurricane Sandy.

As we neared the Verrazano Bridge we biked right into a place called Fort Wadsworth.  Wow.

Apparently Fort Wadsworth here was built strategically to protect New York Harbour but by the time it was completed it was basically obsolete. Frankly, I can't believe no one's turned it into a boutique hotel.

We ate lunch and tooled around for a bit before heading back to the ferry.

The ferry is the perfect place for a photographer because there's tons of people watching but since every tourist has a camera so you don't look like a creep.

Roan loved the ferry! Sam, I'm not so sure.


We decided to go back to Brooklyn via the Manhattan Bridge.  No boardwalk, thus no tourists.  Not so scenic but quick.  On the way through Chinatown we hit on one of those spontaneous, fascinating vignettes of urban life that make New York a remarkable place to live. 

The Eastern US Fujian Opera Troupe, complete with live orchestra.

All told, including the ferry ride, we clocked about 13 miles.  We were fried when we got home.  Sofa time was needed.

29 May 2013


NB: Apparently no one else can understand what Roan here is saying, which is "oh my God!"

I've had to be SO restrained with my penchant for cursing since Roan started to talk,  so it comes as a relief to me that this one (I am pretty sure) is all on Sam. And it's not too bad (twice, right at the beginning).  Plus he seems to have nailed usage in context.

Video courtesy of Sam too.

11 May 2013


So there's this boy
He stole my heart
He calls me mom.

doing his best Bob Dylan impersonation


I doubt it is apparent from this blog how my mom and I SO did not get along in my teenage years.  I believe, in fact, that we did not utter a kind word to each other for the entire year of 1990.  We were two bull moose locking antlers.  And yet, ironically, I think she kind of meant it to be that way. My mom had every intention of raising a girl who was as strong willed, outspoken, and opinionated as she was, although I think she got more than she bargained for.

Saying that my mom is a "personality" is like saying that Sybil was a bit of a personality.  My mom is ALL Susan ALL the time, which I found exasperating at fourteen.  She had blue and purple spiky hair and a mouth to match.  Why couldn't she just be my mom and blend in to the mom wallpaper behind all the other kids? Mind you, I had flaming red hair but this was supposed to be my prerogative as an expressive adolescent, not hers. 

Behind the scenes of all of this quirkiness and bravado I was oblivious to what my mom was really doing, which was taking care of other people all the time.  She worked at a homeless shelter for people with disabilities. She went back to nursing school in her 40s, which meant tackling algebra again for the first time in 30 years (of course, she was nominated to give the speech for her graduating class at NYU). She raised an angsty teenager and a small child in a crowded apartment with my dad who, awesome though he was, worked all the time. She had to usher her ailing parents and aunt through long, slow declines of alcoholism and Alzheimers and death pretty much by herself.  She faced this all with a directness and humor that I now understand to be the only practical way of dealing with a tragic situation without going crazy in the process.

At the time I think I misinterpreted the goal of all of this strong female will to be conquering a successful career.  But when I think about it now I realize that she was after something bigger, namely for me to be able to cope with any shit the universe threw at me.  To not hedge, to not avoid or hide or backpedal as so many are apt to do in the presence of fear and the absence of coping.  I don't think without having this fortitude ground into be from birth that I could have survived Lula's life and death.  And without my mom, who dropped everything, retired from her job and pretty much moved in with us, Lula would not likely have lived as long as she did.

Being a mom really is a terrifying responsibility.  In the natural order of the universe everyone's mom is their first and last line of defense. One of the most frightening realizations I had as Lula was dying was that that my mom didn't have her own mom to lean on any more, that all of her strength, which built a wall of love and safety around me, came from her and her alone. I don't know how I will ever be so strong without her. 

She still drives me crazy.  She's a chronic over-sharer and occasional busybody.  She tends towards vanity and obsesses over everyone's thinness and fatness like a walking US Weekly.  I have never had to own a scale because I know my weight by her inferences.  I refuse to be her Facebook friend because she has a way of teasing me that I don't have a sense of humor about.  But I can only imagine what irritates her about me, with my incessant requests for babysitting and relentless nagging to quit smoking and eat some vegetables. She is still my hero, she still shows me all the time how to keep living on this devastating and mystifying of planets.

Grandma Marion, Me, Mom (this photo is a repeat but it's my favorite so here it is again)

09 May 2013


Spring has sprung!  So Roan and I went to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens to take it all in.

I love this couple looking at the map.  I think their hair goes well with the foliage, don't you?

06 May 2013


Roan has had his very first class pictures.  I, of all people, am especially sympathetic to the plight of any brave photographer who endeavours to photograph toddlers.  It is impossible.  I am really quite happy with Roan's portraits and grateful he isn't posed like a taxidermied air hostess in front of a hideous marbled backdrop. Photos by Stomping Ground Photo

I am a little disappointed with the group photo since he is hidden, but what can you do?  It's a good thing he has so much hair or you would hardly see him at all. Also, his friend Suyaiya didn't make it to the session, which is a bummer.  Roan's friend Cole, however, is the rock star in the blue shades.  Nice one, Cole.

05 May 2013


Years ago I worked on a shoot for a prom magazine (classy!) wherein I had the prop stylist buy about a hundred helium balloons.  As luck would have it that very same day my mom was having a 60th birthday bash so I volunteered to take the balloons home, not really thinking about the logistics of hailing a cab on a Friday at 5pm with several dozen helium balloons and then convincing said cab driver to take me to Brooklyn (it took a while).

As I guided my floating herd of balloons down the street I was treated like a rock star by everyone under age 10.  I handed out balloons to every kid I passed and their faces lit up like little lanterns of awe and joy.  It was pretty fabulous. The point of this long winded story is that walking down the street with all these helium balloons gave me an inkling into what it must feel like to be a fire fighter.

Aunt Aggie, who works for the NYC Fire department arranged for Roan to get a private tour of Hook & Ladder 148 in Borough Park (all other aunties - the ante has officially been upped!)  The job requirements of a fire fighter must read thusly:  willing to put life and limb at risk at all times for strangers, AND must be extremely tolerant and patient with small children asking you a million questions and tugging at your clothes at all other times.  Roan was completely star struck to the point of almost being shy. Shy!  Roan!  He got to climb on the truck, push all the buttons, and sweep the floor (his idea).  One of the firemen slid down the pole from the second floor and another even got dressed in all the gear just for the occasion. Every single guy we met there was fantastically generous and kind with us. 

I will note here that my photos aren't great or very thorough and that is because I wanted to actually experience the joy on my child's face firsthand rather than view the entire event from behind the screen of a camera, as I am often prone to doing. 

As if the day wasn't awesome enough, we started with waffles

The fire house

A beautiful old building

Fire truck!


A gong!

I don't know what's going on with Roan's shirt here, but this guy was so nice

Aggie helps Roan slide down the pole



Thanks for the visit!