Mentally Moving

From “All over Albany”

Last night, talking to our neighbor friends we are going to miss like crazy, I realized that Amos and I are something of an anomaly in having moved so much.  They were asking us about packing, and we were telling them a little about where we are 8 days out from the move, and the way they reacted – like wow, you guys know how to pack! – made me think about our moving past.  Amos and I have lived together for eight years or so, and in that time we have moved 5, almost 6, times.  I know that I’m the one out of my high school friends who has strayed from our hometown the farthest, and that’s also true in my family.  Amos is different; growing up in St. Louis, having a huge graduating class, he just doesn’t talk about those people anymore.  When you have a close-knit group of 33, you tend to hold on a little more, even if you don’t see them much.

My rambling point is that I feel like a professional mover.  We know how to pack, really pack our things, so everything comes through undamaged.  We start packing weeks in advance to a system that allows us to use the necessities the longest and unpack in an orderly fashion.  Once we’re done, we break down all our boxes – all standard moving boxes, sturdy and stackable – and bundle them according to size (small, medium, large, dish pack, wardrobe).  Even as a child my family moved weirdly a lot.  We weren’t a military family, but we did have some reasons for moving on down the road.

Childhood moves:  7

Adult moves:  9

This move will be my 17th move, my 10th as an adult, my 4th with children, and my 1st that takes less than 12 hours of driving.  Those numbers feel ridiculous.  Each move has had a reason; as a child I was picked up and transplanted for some reason, although I’m not privy to them all, and our adult moves have all made sense, like this one does.  We are both weary of the nomadic life, picking up friends here and there, favorite restaurants and parks scattered all over the eastern half of the US.  That life is kind of fun, in seeing how different people are place to place (and they really are different, in subtle ways that you wouldn’t imagine would even BE changeable), but we would really love a house.  With a garden.  And a swing.

And so in moving back to NY, we are chasing that dream a little.  There we have people, we have parks and restaurants, and we are happy to revisit instead of readjust.  I know you can never step into the same stream twice, but it is at least comforting to recognize the scenery when you’re up to your knees in water.

Last Minute Visits

Grandma and grandpa are here from St. Louis!  Amos’s parents always take a vacation this time of year, sometimes to see us since we are never close to St. Louis, and this year they made it just in time to see New Jersey and NYC.  We have some fun stuff planned:  trip to Little Italy, maybe Princeton or Lambertville for antiques, swimming in the river, taking walks, watching movies.  It’s going to be a strangely relaxing week before our very last week here, during which we will be all aflutter with insane packing.  It’s really nice to have this break in the midst of packing and moving, though.  So happy they’re here!

This will probably be my last post before we get back to NY, where I hope to catch up on blogging.  Both girls will be away from home all day then, Hazel in preschool and Julia in daycare four days a week, so even though I’ll start classes again AND start hardcore working on my thesis (even though it’s not technically until spring), I will probably have more spare time in the day!  Funny how that works, right?

On the Road Again (and yet Again)

Now that all our stars are aligned, I can break the not-very-secret news:  we’re moving again, this time back to Utica, and this time for at least two years.  

When Amos left his job at SUNYIT for one in Athens, Alabama, to be near my family, they asked him to reconsider resigning and submit a leave of absence instead.  We did, for several reasons.  Then, after being offered this incredible job by Samsung in Kansas City, we just couldn’t say no, so we moved again.  A scarce six weeks into the position we were told that we would be moving to New Jersey by Thanksgiving, and at that point we had little choice. Now, for many, many reasons that all revolve around Amos being able to spend more time with the family, we have decided to head back to Utica and take up again at SUNYIT.  He is excited to be a professor again, working with students, and we are both excited that he will step off the fast track and be able to spend more time at home, be flexible again in scheduling.  I think we’re all relieved this is happening in the beauty of upstate New York instead of the crowded, broken streets of New Jersey (very sorry, NJ residents – I didn’t grow up with crowds like this, it feels alien to me!).

In some ways I feel like we’re regressing.  I mean, we’ll essentially be back where we were two years ago, except in a townhouse this time and with another baby.  I’ll start my last semester of classes at MSU, the girls will go to preschool and daycare, and Amos will be at school.  It’s very much like 2009.  Because I’m totally a Debbie Downer, even though I try not to be, I worry about this.  But I have to keep reminding myself this is not about moving back, but about making a conscious choice between two known variables.  And for several reasons we’re choosing the slower-paced life that his being a professor allows.    

Anyway, we are all so excited to be back in Clinton, NY.  That is truly a lovely little village, with lots of great friends that have been so helpful in our coming back, and we’re really excited to see everyone again at the end of this month.  In between we have some fun stuff coming up, too:  grandparents are visiting from St. Louis, Hazel’s having an early birthday party, water days start at preschool (bathing suits, water play, fun), and we’re going to NYC at least one more time, plus I’m going to see Jennifer Weiner read at Princeton Library!  Our place in NJ really does allow for some cool traveling opportunities, and we’re taking advantage of those before we head four hours north to our other Clinton.

June in New Jersey

It has been a while since I’ve posted, most directly as a result of my new site The Two R’s.  Here you’ll find my take on reading and writing (not so much the ‘rithmetic).  This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and with Amos’s help in setting up the site, I was finally able to make it happen.

But in the meantime, we have of course still been having lots of fun here in NJ on the weekends!  Recently we visited the Central Park Zoo in NYC, walked the galleries and used book shops in Lambertville, NJ, saw the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, played sprinklers and water sensory boxes in our swimsuits in the yard, and of course visited the awesome local farmer’s market every Sunday.  The girls and I like summer life, and we especially love it when it’s not 100+ degrees every day for six months out of the year.  I can take the recent heat wave that seems to be affecting almost the entire United States as long as that mess fades before Christmas.

For your viewing pleasure, and since I still have a folder marked “Edit These” with about 300 photos lingering on my desktop, here is Hazel singing a Parliament song (“I know what you can do / let me lay some funk on you”) and another of my big girl Julia walking like a boss at the park.

Julia has been tentatively walking for a couple of weeks now, and I finally managed to get a little video of her taking some steps.  You’ll have to ignore the toys on the floor, the laundry on the coffee table, and the Dawson’s Creek on the television.  Side note – it’s intensely weird, watching something I LOVED and people I thought were HOT when I was 15.  They really only think about sex in the craziest of ways.

Anyway!  Baby steps!!

Short Version: Drive to Philly, Don’t Lose Your Mind

Today we took advantage of living in New Jersey and drove to Philadelphia.  Seriously, all anyone here talks about it how close we are to all this awesome stuff, but a lot of that awesome stuff is in NYC and Philly and not in New Jersey.  So, off we went, for my second visit to the city and everyone else’s first, to spend the day at the Franklin Institute.  Hands down, one of the best science centers I’ve ever been to; only a handful of exhibits were broken, and you all know the percentage is usually closer to 25% (or 100% if you’re talking about Cleveland, but that’s another story).  We pre-ordered tickets, so that meant we just sauntered up in there at 9:30 AM without waiting for a one person and started running through all the exhibits.  Seriously, it had a range of attractions that were only a little over our very precocious, mega genius almost-four-year-old’s head, so we really walked through every room of every floor, exploring everything.  After spending four hours between the three floors, we had a bit of lunch at the Foodworks (not too shabby, but very basic fare), touched everything in the gift shop, and headed home.  The drive was lovely, only partly on a highway, and the worst part of the day was  Jules throwing up in the backseat.  Luckily we were only 15 miles from home, and even more luckily she didn’t throw up again ever, so it was a calamity quickly dealt with.  You have to love a day trip with very little kids that begins with French toast bagels and coffee in the car and ends with steak and a nice cabernet sauvignon.  I mean, seriously – when is the last time you’ve been able to spend all day out with kids and still have time and nerves to grill out and pop a cork when you get home?  I usually never do!  If that is what a trip to Phila is like, then sign me up daily.

 

My semester is over, and so school work happens at a much slower pace.  During the couple of hours everyday that Julia naps, I totally embrace the summer like I’m a 20-year-old coed, which means a lot of string cheese snacks and naps on the couch.  I think the last semester was extra trying on my rusty 29-year-old brain.  Seriously, can you believe that?  I’m 29 – TWENTY NINE YEARS OLD.  I’m officially at the age that I thought was, like, superly totally OLD when I was 15.  And maybe it’s the superly total oldness, or maybe the full-time parenting with two insanely energetic kids, combined with the brain aerobics I was working all semester, but I’m just fried.  I can barely make a sentence right now.  Type hard it be.

Just for fun – McGrumpfacerton

But if I’m going to make the next 50 years of my oldness less dusty and worth living, a girl’s gotta have goals.  So I’ve been working on a paper on the Daphne du Maurier novel Rebecca (1938) and the Hitchcock adaptation of the same title (1940), and early this morning at about 1 AM I submitted the final draft to an academic journal that focuses on work with a feminist perspective.  I’m so nervous and excited – I’ve finally started that long, damning slide into rejection after rejection that is academic publishing!

So all I’ve really done since my break is rewrite that paper, chop about 800 words from it, write a biography (it felt very pretentious – have you ever had to boild yourself down into about 100 words, in 3rd person?  tres weirdo), and discover Spotify.  You can just look up anything you’ve ever heard and play it.  It’s kind of amazing, and I’ve been in a Tears for Fears and Lisa Loeb 90’s coma all day.  I have an unironic, deep-seated love of the Tears for Fears jam “Head Over Heels,” and now Hazel does too.  Raising kids is all about nurturing those seeds, y’all.

So I’ll be back regularly now, although honestly we’re being very boring.  Hazel requested full-time preschool, so she’s gone everyday, and Julia sleeps almost more than her Uncle Nick, which is just barely possible.  It’s amazing and strange.  Mostly, then, I do work when I’m not staring at the wall in a post-graduate haze, and who really wants to hear me drone on about Hamlet and Donne and Moby Dick?

Of course you do.

 

I’ve been gone for a while, but all that hard work has paid off in the form of not very ripped-up papers and some hard-earned grades.  Now I’m feeling the 80 degree heat here in Jersey, and I’m looking forward to the summer.  These three monkeys are too!

Looking

I have been thinking lately about the act of looking, and specifically all the things we do that interfere with that gaze.  TV, the phone, even books – all the things we do that disrupt that looking and focus our attention elsewhere.  I confess, I have been reading and loving Woolf, and I can tell the impact her writing has had on me.

At any rate, today I took Julia out in the yard to enjoy the beautiful weather, and I took my camera, and I just watched her watching the cars, investigating the grass, following the sounds of birds and rustling leaves.  It was a lovely time; very little babies are refreshingly unaware of being watched, especially with a camera.

And then Hazel and Amos came home from preschool and work, respectively…

And that changed things quite a bit!

 

This morning I was talking to Hazel about my coming to her preschool to read a Dr. Seuss book in honor of Dr. Seuss Week.  She knows I work at home, or really go to school at home, but that’s about all she knows.  So, I said to her, “Did you know I’m a writer too?  That’s what I do right now – I read and write, and later I’ll teach other people how to do that.”

“Really?  You just write?  I want to be a writer when I grow up, just like you.”

Thinking how sweet it was to hear that, I said, “I can’t wait to read your books.”

“Hmmm, what do you write?  What kinds of books?”

“I write things about other books; I read them, then I write about them for other people.”

Laughing, she replied, “What?!  Who would read THAT?”

She’s a perceptive little genius, she is.  This little exchange made my day.

 

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