Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Starting Preschool, Street Cleaning Parking Protocol, and the Delightful Economics of a NYC Lifestyle

I am happy to report that we survived the first week at PS 321. This place is something else, I tell you. I still haven't gotten used to the thousands of people who show up on time for school in the morning and then pick-up in the afternoon. It is like going to a party two times a drop off your little homie in the lobby in the morning and hope he or she makes it to class without getting trampled, and then in the afternoon, you wait and try not to have an anxiety attack as all the little fish come swimming out of every door searching for their parents on the crowded, skinny sidewalks. Madness.

And now, a new week to survive, as my younger one starts preschool for the first time tomorrow. I thought I was a Seasoned Mama, and that sending my second child off to school for the first time would be no biggie, as I have already gone through all those emotions of letting go and trusting a stranger to take care of my child, etc. but It Just Doesn't Work That Way. For every little human being you bring into the world, be prepared to suffer all the complex emotional sways again and again. So, on that note, another bottle of wine, up late, fretting, making sure all the lunches are packed and extra pair of underwear properly labeled, and so on and so forth. I wish the school gave me the warm fuzzy vibe and was just around the corner, but so far it doesn't, and it doesn't seem to be moving any further south either. So for now, I will summon up the good energy and positive outlook and hope that it all goes smoothly and the first day will change my perceptions. If you are out cruising the streets in Brooklyn in your car, remember there are a lot of kids walking down sidewalks in a line to playgrounds and such. Drive attentively and slowly.

Speaking of driving slowly, parking is a real mother fucker here. During the summer, it was like big, wide spots open everywhere...but now that school is in session and everyone is back from their vacation homes in the Hamptons, parking spots come open about every 45 minutes of driving around all the surrounding blocks. And boy oh boy you'd better read those street cleaning signs before you park. Every street has a different day - and it is just one side of the street on that day. So, very punctually, at 8am, all the cars on the side of the street being cleaned, move over and double park on the opposite side of the street. That means those parked cars on the other side are blocked in until precisely 11 am when street cleaning is done and the cars can move back. No one bothers to honk if they are blocked in...they just all know what the hell is going on. Then all the different trucks pick up the piles and piles and piles and piles and piles of trash. It is AMAZING, and one of those funny, quirky things about the workings of this neighborhood that I have already come to love. I am not sure why I love it...if it is the fact that between 8-11am one day a week you can get away with doing something illegal (double parking), or if it is because between 8-11am one day a week if you weren't paying attention to what was happening on the other side of the street, you have a pretty good excuse for not being able to drive anywhere (some jackass double parked and you are blocked in), or if I just like seeing neatly filed rows of cars all up together side by side...whatever it is I just like it.

So that whole double parking extravaganza is the cool part about owning a car in NYC (that, and you can leave the city when you need a breath of fresh air, seriously). The not-so-cool part is that insurance goes up by 4 times. And this, my friends, is something we are truly In Denial about. We can't bring ourselves to register the damn thing and change the insurance. Yeah, yeah, I know we have to, and we will, but we plan on dragging this one out a little longer. Unfortunately, that 4x rule seems to apply pretty widely to things around here, we've noticed. Preschool, for example...holy fucking have to be a millionaire to send your kid to preschool around here...or maybe that is the norm in the U.S., and we are just still used to preschool in Berlin, which means Lots of Government Funding which means Dirt Cheap (as in you can almost find the change you need in your couch and that includes meals!!).

Which brings Mama Jens down Memory Lane. A beautiful, sunny Chapel Hill Sunday morning. We go to ACME in Carrboro for a lovely brunch. (The food is incredible here, by the way, so stop in if you are every in town...their French toast with fresh strawberries and cream is to die for.) We are sitting next to an older couple who thinks our two kids, jacked up on sugar from the french toast and climbing all over the chairs and pouring out the salt and pepper and so on, are just adorable. We strike up a conversation with them. It turns out they just moved from NYC and bought an amazing 1960's Cogswell house in one of the downtown Chapel Hill neighborhoods. It was even featured in a recent book about Chapel Hill architecture. Anywayz, we were telling them about our upcoming move to the big city and the guy said they decided to head south (much to the disapproval of their children and friends who were like, "You are moving WHERE?") because of the warmer weather and because, "in New Yowk, ya make a hundjred thowsan' dahlas an' yur nahthing, here, you make a hundjred thowsan' dahlas an' yura king." He was right.

Anyways, it is Mama Jens' bed time. Gotta get ready for preschool tomorrow, so more later.

Good night and no more terrorist attacks, please. Love, Mama Jens


Blogger Berlinbound said...

I had a car in NYC, for a short period while in law school and I kept it on the street, doing the double-parking dance on Mondays and Wednesdays - that is until a garbage truck backed over my small, brown Triumph and I realized in a flash that trains were much more to my liking.

Be well ...

5:46 AM  

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