Saturday, November 10, 2012

You Suck, Sandy!

Damn, Sandy, you’re a real bitch! I didn’t realize it at first, but now I see loud and clear the damage you’ve done and the pain you’ve caused. Fuck you and your annoying Nor’easter girlfriend, Athena.

I wrote my previous post on Thursday of last week early in the morning, a couple days after Sandy’s landfall.  At that time, I knew that she had done a significant amount of damage, primarily on the coastal areas of New Jersey, Long Island and Staten Island but I didn’t fully understand the severity of it. My world, given there’s no public transportation, which there wasn’t, consists of a 5-mile radius of Brooklyn, and it seemed to be unaffected in a way.  Our public parks and schools were closed, some services, like Fresh Direct were suspended, and fallen trees and debris were on the sidewalks, but that was about it.

At some point later that day, I stumbled upon a Facebook page “Cancel the NYC Marathon”.  It had 50,000 “likes”. My heart sank.

Mayor Bloomberg announced the previous night, Wednesday, that the marathon would go on as scheduled, unite the city and help get us back up and running again. At that time, I agreed with and was relieved with that decision.  I thought there was no way they would cancel it, but I also thought, there would be no reason to, either.  I thought the city would be well on it’s way back to normal by Sunday. I was so wrong. Bloomberg was so wrong.

All day Friday, I stayed glued to media coverage, Facebook, Twitter, the NYC ING Marathon website.  The more informed I became, the more I knew that it needed to be cancelled or postponed.  It seemed, that no one wanted this race to be run. Who want’s to run the NYC marathon without the city cheering you on, or even worse, booing at you? Who wants get bussed to Staten Island, the race start, to shed excess running gear onto the ground while people in that very community have no heat, hot water, or expendable money to buy warmer clothes?  Who wants to use up resources like food, water and medical supplies for an athletic event, when others need it survival? No one. The cries to cancel the event grew louder and louder and late Friday afternoon I saw a post on Facebook announcing just that; NYC Marathon is cancelled. I confirmed it on NBC 4 News for New York and Twitter lit up simultaneously.  Shortly after Jeff and I received e-mails for New York Road Runners, the organizing foundation.

As much as I knew it had to be done, and agreed that it should be cancelled. I couldn’t believe it.  I was sad. I was in shock.  I was relieved.  I called my Mom and Sister, shared the news and told them not to come to the city, as scheduled. Jeff and I needed to let it sink in and think about what we were going to do next.  We did so, over a bottle of wine and sushi.

I read that some marathoners were going to spend their time volunteering on Staten Island and that others were going to run a marathon in Central Park on Sunday, what was to be the race day.  Neither of those options seemed appealing to us.  We decided to shift gears alltogether and go to the Bronx Zoo.  Animals always make people feel better, we’ve been talking about going for a while, and now we had an opportunity.   Unfortunately, there were hardly any exhibits open, and the ones that were featured sleeping animals.  Too make matters worse; it was a perfect day for a run, 50 degrees, light breeze, and clear skies. 

Fennec Fox - The smallest fox. We found it in the zoo Mouse House.

After we returned home from the zoo, had dinner and put Colette to bed we started researching other fall marathons that we might be able to run.  Sarasota, Jacksonville, Charlotte, Harrisburg, Palm Beach…. the lame list of cities I have no connecton to went on and on. Logistically, emotionally and financially nothing made sense.  We wanted to run a marathon in our city, not any city.  Then, I suggested that we could just run 26.2 miles on our own, together this weekend, in the city.  Jeff seemed on board, but not thrilled with the idea.  As this weekend neared, Jeff questioned me on why we needed to do this.  Was it to prove it to ourselves? We knew we could do it. Was it to prove it to others? No one cares whether we do or don’t run. To have fun? It’s not fun.   The more I thought about it, the more it became clear that running a self-created marathon seemed more like punishment than a reward.   So, we nixed that idea. But still, I felt the need to have some closure around this marathon.

Today Jeff, Colette and I are going to run a celebratory 3-mile loop around our beloved Prospect Park. We will acknowledge the dedication and commitment we put into our training, mourn the loss of a great experience that never was and move on to creating the next one.

Manchester Road Race, here we come!

PS – The aftermath of hurricane Sandy is unreal.  I am blown away by how severely some areas have been impacted. It will take years to recover.  We’ve donated money, supplies, volunteer time and the opportunities to do more are never-ending. If you want to contribute in some way, but don’t know what to do, let me know and I can point you in the right direction.

Volunteering in Rockaway

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Storm Trackers

This past Sunday Jeff and I ran a race in Central Park in preparation for the marathon and in attempt to qualify for the Under 40 minute seed for the Manchester Road Race, which we plan to run on Thanksgiving morning.  It was a success since both Jeff and I ran our fastest races ever.  Jeff ran a 7:15 pace and I ran a 7:57 pace for the 5-mile race.  While we ran, Colette had an early morning play date with Lanie, the daughter of our friends Liza and Mike who live just a few blocks from the park. That was also a success!

Lanie and Colette meet for bagels and blocks

Our plans to go to the XX concert in the Bronx on Sunday night were cancelled due to the impending storm and suspended public transportation.  We hunkered down in front of the TV and braced ourselves for the slow arrival of Hurricane Sandy. We had plenty of food, water, booze, charged electronics, batteries and flashlights. I love weather events (given no one gets hurt) and had an adrenaline rush as we read news updates and looked out the window for signs of deteriorating conditions.  We caught up on Tivo TV, played with Colette, waited and waited some more. Once the storm arrived, we were fortunately, underwhelmed. The lights flickered a few times and the wind hollowed a bit, but that was the extent of what we experienced in our apartment/bunker.  It’s rare times like this that I don’t mind of the lack of trees on our street.

The biggest impact for us has been the continued suspension of the subways and the closure of all public schools and therefore day care for the entire week.  Getting into midtown, which is where my office is located, with gridlocked streets and no public transportation is nearly impossible.  Essentially, my office, along with thousands of others, is closed because no one can get to it.  Yes, we are expected to work from home, but without childcare, it’s a little tricky. 

We’ve been nanny-sharing Colette’s day care teacher, whom lives down the street from us, with two other families, neighborhood friends of ours whom also have toddlers that go to day care with Colette.  It gives us time to get work done and gives Colette time to hang with her peeps.  Aside from that, Jeff and I have been hanging with her and getting as much work done as possible.  But truthfully, this unexpected time at home as a family, has been a treat.  We were very lucky.  Many of my colleagues, those whom live in New Jersey and lower Manhattan are still without power and will be for some time.  Many suffered, although no one we know personally, much bigger losses, such as cars, homes, and sadly, even the lives of loved ones.

Pre-Hurricane and Fancy Free

 We were very nervous that they would cancel the marathon this Sunday due to Sandy.  Not surprisingly, the marathon and hurricane cleanup require a ton of competing resources, honestly both are logistical nightmares.  To our relief, Mayor Bloomberg announced last night, that the marathon is a go.  Now, the tricky part is figuring out how to get into midtown to get our race numbers and also, how to actually get to the marathon, which starts on Staten Island.  But, those are very small obstacles, compared to what many in this area are currently facing.  My heart goes out to them and I am reminded of how blessed we truly are.

Post-Hurricane Seriousness

Friday, October 19, 2012

An Everyday Mantra

I’m writing this post, as I sit on plane, headed back to New York from Chicago, where I have spent the later half of the week for work.  “Free time” which I have finally found on this flight, is so rare these days and the last month has kicked my ass. Lately, more often than not, I’m poorly multi-tasking, running late, leaving something behind, taking shortcuts, overtired, moody and stressed.  Although it may sound like it, I’m not complaining, just reflecting on how challenging life can be when it’s full of awesome things (work, kids, family, travel, friends, education, fitness) that seek ones attention.

My mags - I want to read these!
Marathon training hit a climax last week, with Jeff and I each clocking in 40 miles, taking up a combined twelve hours of our time.  Finding 6 hours to dedicate to running, or anything other than work, Colette and maintaining the basic needs of a apartment and family are challenging at best. Thankfully, the hardest training days are behind us and we are tapering our running schedules in preparation for race day just a few weeks away.   I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of training and following a structured workout routine, but I’ll be relieved when it’s over. 
My books - I need to read these.

In Septemeber, I started taking a class offered by my employer, Herman Miller, providing me the required 35 class hours, enabling me to sit for my PMP (Project Management Professional) exam.  The class meets once a week, for 2.5 hours, through December.  Luckily, I can attend online and it meets during the workday.   The class is great and I’m really excited about getting my PMP Certification this spring, but the required reading is constantly on my to-do list and never getting done. 

Our social calendar has not let up too much either. We threw a party to celebrate Colette’s 1st birthday on October 6th.  Last weekend we travelled to CT to run in the Hartford Marathon relay as part of our training and we’re headed back that way tomorrow for our friends’ wedding.  I’d like to have more unaccounted time to read magazines, cook a nice meal for Jeff, and have a lazy and relaxed morning playing on the floor with Colette.  Unfortunately, these are the very important and sanity-saving things that always get squeezed out of the day.

1st Birthday!!! (Check out the sweet owl cake I made)
My mantra for the marathon is “trust and repeat”.  Trust in my training, my mind, and body.  Repeat what others and I have done before.  This mantra keeps me calm, positive and most importantly, moving forward. Perhaps, I should use this mantra every day and not just on long runs. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Summer Sets

Summer still lingers on the subway platforms but fall is most definitely in the air.  I had a great summer, but I’m always ready for the change in seasons. Always.

Cousins. Pool. This is summer. 
As I reflect on our summer, although it was lovely, I feel something was missing.   That missing something was a weeklong summer vacation. 

Expected. American. Needed. Oops.

When I was a kid, most certainly, we would go away for at least one week a summer.  We would rent a beach house in Rhode Island or lakeside in some small New England town.  As a teenager, I worked through the summers, began to travel more independently and those family vacations bacame shorter and less frequent. As an adult, Jeff and I became big fans of weekend travel in attempt to maximize our vacation days as well as the places and people we could visit. Plus, our temperment keeps us moving quickly and hardly in one place for more than a few nights. 

The lake!
I will always be a fan of weekend travel but I’ve realized that no matter how many weekend trips you take it never equals to the calm and excitement of a full weeklong vacation.   Colette is a great traveler, but certainly there’s an added level of stress and responsibility when traveling with a baby.  Jeff and I used to have pre-boarding dates at the airport bars without worry if a flight was delayed or cancelled. We had one another, books, and booze.  Now we have a baby.  Understandably, JFK’s Wine Bar is not Colette’s scene.  She’s more into exploring the fixed bench seats and eating crumbs off the terminal floor. 

Before Colette, we used to arrive to the airport as close to departure time as possible, partially because we were scrambling to get there from work and partially because we thought we were cool and experienced travelers. Well, it’s hard to be cool when traveling with a Bumbo, a Binki and frozen breast milk.  And it even harder to be on time and feel relaxed.  It’s impossible to come back late Sunday night and throw yourself into another week of work and daycare feeling refreshed and not fried.

So, lesson learned.  Every summer from this point on, we’re taking at least one full weeklong family vacation. No excuses.

Here are some highlights from the past few hot, sticky and wonderful months.

Sight-seeing in San Fran!

My kick-ass family post water-skiing.
I'm proud to say that all of us still slolom. 

Park dates with neighborhood friends.

Hanging with my girls in San Diego for Kelly's wedding.

Taking a family day trip with Robert Moses Beach on Long Island in our new car!

My 30th Birthday on August 30th

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nanny Diaries

I never check the weather forecast so it’s not surprising that I got caught in a flash rainstorm, without an umbrella and in flip-flops walking home from work yesterday.  My walk quickly turned into a jog when I noticed a woman exiting a cab, headed in the direction of our apartment several blocks away.  I hurried closer and attempted to take her place and get out of rain.  Unfortunately for my soggy flip-flops, and me, she wasn’t getting out.  Luckily for her, she needed help getting an infant car seat and stroller securely in the cab.

I was carrying my laptop in a mesh bag, and it was pouring, so I slid into the backseat of the cab and secured the baby into the car seat and then the car seat into the cab.  Then the women, whom I learned was the baby’s nanny, asked if I could collapse the stroller since she didn’t know how.  I got soaked trying, but failed since it was a model I had ever used.  Annoyed, I just picked up the whole stroller, unfolded, and placed it in the huge truck. No sweat. Totally wet.

My head was dripping and spinning as I quickly headed home and away from that encounter.   Why didn’t the nanny know how to fold the stroller and install a car seat? At the very least, why wasn’t the baby even secured in the infant carrier before I arrived on scene? Did I just assist in baby abduction? Who would hire this incapable person to care for their child, let alone take him in a car?  God, I’m glad Colette has a great day care. Usually.

Colette’s daycare closes for the last two weeks of August through Labor Day, every year.   Therefore, we’re pretty desperate for free/cheap childcare  but we’re making it work, without diving to the bottom on the nanny barrel.  In order to avoid paying for a babysitter in addition to monthly daycare tuition, we’ve been cobbling together care.  We’ve asked our friends and family to help, taken a few staggered vacation days, and cross our fingers that she sleeps through a conference call, or two.   Both of our jobs are flexible enough, that’s it’s feasible, but it’s takes a lot of coordination and jockeying of schedules.   It certainly makes us appreciate the staff, routine and quality of her daycare.

A rooster, a hen, and a chicken nugget

The week before last, my Mom stayed with us and watched Colette on Thursday and Friday.  Damn, she made us look like losers.   Before I left for work, I gave my Mom a short list of baby friendly activities taking place the ‘hood so they didn’t get bored hanging around the apartment.  I thought they would do one or two things at the most…but they did everything!  My Mom took her to the playground, the park, the zoo and the sing-a-long at the library.  In addition to that, while walking home from the train I crossed paths with my Mom walking to the grocery store. She was going to get groceries to make us dinner.   If she was a nanny, we couldn’t afford her!

She took her first solo steps this weekend!

Nanny Teri

We also appreciate the help we’ve received from my friend Jess, Jeff’s parents Jim and Marilyn, and Sister Shana. They’ve been tremendously helpful and Colette has enjoyed the extra special attention.

PS – In case you were concerned, the nanny I encountered had cash and a handwritten note in her hand, from the baby’s parents, of the doctor’s office, their destination.  I took that as a sign that this nanny was legit and not stealing a baby with my expert assistance.