Saturday, October 28, 2006

New York City, Real Estate, and Nights Out

Hello from a rainy, Halloweenish October night in Chapel Hill.

First things first: We survived our first trip away (to NYC) from the little ones (and they survived too). But more importantly, I am happy to report that we didn't totally freak out and decide we had to move there this very minute. It was totally fascinating and amazing and exciting and I wanted to look at real estate the whole time just out of curiousity, but I did not have the feeling I could live there with small children (unless I had bajillions of dollars and could afford to live on the Upper East Side next to Central Park where my children could play all day with the other children who had just jumped out of their bugaboos, French-cottonly clad, rosy-cheeked, and nanny flanked). I could totally imagine living in the more interesting parts of town (south Manhattan-ish), if I were in the young, sexy, wealthy, childless twenties...but, that is just not the here and now. With kids it would be a little like torture (for both parties). In those areas, it just made me sad to see the little ones all glazed over in their strollers from too much noise and stimulation.

But the NYC adventure totally rocked, in terms of having a little parents' time away. No being at home by 7:30 before story times and meltdowns, no walking at snail speed, no waking up at 6 am, no picking-up-the-fork-and-spoon-exercise routine at dinner. We took advantage of every minute of our time and, I swear, saw so much in three days....MOMA, Whitney, The John Stewart Show, every part of town imaginable (thought we regrettably/regretfully did not make it over to Brooklyn), an awesome little French cafe called Cafe Gitanes, Chinatown, near death by taxi driving, H&M, rows of brownstones that made me curl with curiousity about the layouts and inhabitants behind the facades, and so on. What an absolutely incredible, mind boggling place. I would love to live there when I am an old woman.

And speaking of the here and now, it is fall and beautiful. There is a pack of children in the neighborhood that collect and walk to school, and then later back home together. Seeing your neighbors everyday is amazing. I love them. The neighborhood vibe is pretty good here and so I decided it was time to start a poker club. I made some trashy, home-made flyers, and I passed them out, and then last weekend, we had our first poker night. As far as poker goes, it was kind of a lot of people, but had two tables going and then somewhere around 2am after about 1000 beers and lots of spilled neighborhood psychology, someone finally won and everyone went home. It made us feel very 50's-ish, as in 1950's, neighbors, card games, old fashioned fun, etc.

And speaking of old fashioned fun, I am totally obsessed with real estate. I probably mentioned that somewhere along the line in here, but I can't remember. I spend so much time searching for real estate online that I basically know every frickin' house here, when it was built, how much it sold for, etc. It is kind of scary actually. My memory is total shit, but when it comes to house info and floorplans, I am like Professional Real Estate Mama. So get this: the buyer's agent, who helped us sell this house, wants to hire me as his assistant! I am a photographer and mostly a Mama right now, but hey, why not, maybe it is time I start a career in realty. What do you think?

What else? Oh Its that time of year and Mama Jens starts getting her groove on in the kitchen. Not only do I feel the urge to organize poker nights, I want to plan a whole stretch of parties just so I can cook and bake. Crazy, right? I don't know, but it is something in the air this time of year. My Martha (of the Stewart variety) comes out in full force (but with a freakish twist, not that that lady doesn't have the most hugest dark side the most twisted person can imagine...). So that has been fun...caramel apples, fresh sweet potato pie, gingerbread with homemade whipped cream, etc. and so on. And I am so excited about this time of year in America. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas....after years of celebrating them sort of half-ass in another country, we are excited to see how it is done here, even if the commercial, Hallmark, economy-fueling aspect is a little intense-like.

And speaking of freakish twists, I am letting go of my early 90's indie rock obsession. I have seen some of those bands recently, namely Mojave 3 and Built to Spill, and though they were great, I decided that it is just time for this old Mama to move on. I love you guys, but I have to let go of the past. Time for something new. M Ward, for example. Great show.

On that note, we have been going out a lot here. Even though babysitters can be 50$ a pop, we still have been spoiling ourselves and going out to dinner and shows and movies quite a bit. I am still so amazed that we can leave our children with our babysitter and she can put them to sleep and they are cool about it. It makes us feel so accomplished.

And that brings me to Lantern, an amazing restaurant on Franklin St. that we have been too about 4 times now (partially because it is amazing, and partially because there aren't exactly millions of options here). If you are ever in Chapel Hill (unlikely), make sure to go there. They also have an awesome red-lit bar in the back that makes you feel like you could be anywhere in the world. Strange, but true.

So I think that is about all for tonight. Have a great weekend. Keep up the good work.

Mama Jens