Coming home

This past week was full of more firsts. Two firsts of a similar nature, and triggering the same emotions.
I travelled from my unit for the first time, from NYC.
One trip all alone for work, and the second to take advantage of one of the motivators for moving here in the first place- visiting my amazing extended family in Philly, and for this first trip there, I had the little girl in tow.
Both trips were good for very different reasons, but both stirred a weird and unexpected anxiety…

The work trip triggered a sense of anxiety from a very practical sense… Leaving my unit in this city for the first time. We’ve functioned (or ‘dysfunctioned’, depending on the perspective) in an extremely tight unit for 2 months. Bobbing and weaving, dropping off and picking up, flexing and strengthening… All as a core of four for 2 months.
There was no worry from a logistical or safety perspective. It was just a disruption to that new sense of safety, of familiarity, of known… And a place where much else was the opposite.
Arriving back at the apartment at 2 am 2 short days later provided me with a sense of comfort that I was entirely unprepared for. I’d been gone for such a short period of time. But the depth of feeling that I realized that dark and previously lonely night, surprised me…I was coming ‘home’.

The weekend trip came upon me without anxiety.
I was so looking forward to seeing these familiar and welcoming faces. And the time was perfect. Relaxed, comfortable, happy, and easy.
And ironically, it was all of those entirely good feelings that brought a sneak of anxiety. You can’t win…!
It’s a theme…. the balance between shaking things up, being intentionally uncomfortable, feeling unprepared…. And establishing and realishing in a routine, of feeling ease, of unplugging from thinking…getting too comfortable, can, ironically, make you uncomfortable…
This weekend was easy.  And exactly what I wanted.
But it was an important step in the direction if a new ‘normal.’
And because I haven’t been able to imagine what ‘normal’ looks like here yet, it caught me off-guard. We’ve been operating in a bit of a ‘vacation-mode’, where nothing feels permanent, and everything brings with it adventure, good and bad, just like a holiday. We’ve been the ‘new guys’ where there’s a tolerance for effing up, or not knowing what’s where, or not really planting anything.
And this weekend was the first step away from that.
And it’s awesome.
But it’s a shift…

I’m grabbing a coffee after I get off the train that I ride every day this morning. A new, and also awesome, routine.

Here’s a picture from the weekend that sums up why I’m looking forward to some semblance of comfort on the east coast. Wacky and living Philly family. Building a scarecrow we named Tim.


Haircuts, kicks, and pickles

What a weekend.
And just like that it’s Monday…

We tried something a little different this weekend. Although, in fairness, we haven’t really reached that point where we’ve had any 2 weekends resemble one another. Possibly one of the reasons that we, with much trepidation, jumped for this adventure. Like I’ve said, at certain points routine is necessary and comforting, of course. It’s finding opportunities to challenge yourself in a way that is meaningful and reasonable, while also establishing and maintaining some sense of routine… That’s where we’re at right now…

So this weekend we experimented, entirely by chance, with our group dynamics. Sounds all scientific. Other than the ‘by chance’ part I guess.

In terms of activities, my dear, dear friend activities, we struck a balance between intentional, paid, planned activities, and serendipitous happenings… And when that happens, and everyone is comfortable and responsive and enjoying themselves, it’s pretty special.

The boy and I needed some grooming. We were shaggy, as Eli called it. Him, with a beyond-cute-and-in-to-disheveled look hair, me with caterpillars settling in above my eyes.
So, with the end goal of meeting up at the Kids Fall Festival at Madison Square park, one of my favourite parks in the city, we ventured out to find grooming.
And along the way I decided he and I were going to also hit up the New Balance store to get us both some good New York walking shoes.
In the meantime, Brett and Nora laid low, walked the dog, had a coffee, and made there way up to meet us eventually.
It was nothing dramatic, but it was a shift in the normal dynamics we’d been operating with, where we spent most of our ‘free time’ together as a unit…

The next day I took the kids to the children’s art museum of New York. Top notch, affordable, and fun for all 3 of us.
Then as a whole unit, we ventured to the Lower East Side Pickle day. No shitting. And those people take their pickles seriously.
And along the way, we all encountered expected and unexpected..

This morning while rushing home down the same 5 flights of steps that I tripped going up, I noticed something in the middle of the steps…
A banana. A banana. That I looked at, laughed at, and walked around.




Being a tour guide as a tourist

We’ve already had 2 sets of guests visiting, and are due for 2 more sets over the next month.
It’s really nice seeing familiar faces, and it’s exciting having a new dynamic to experience our new home within.
As much as I really do cherish these visits, I can’t help but feel some pressure ( entirely self-inflicted) to make our guests’ New York experience amazing.
Take them to special places, orchestrate those iconic New York moments, hope that they too have multiple head-shaking, jaw-dropping moments. And you also hope for seamless arrival from one experience to the next.
As someone still very much learning her way through this amazing maze of energies and experiences, this doesn’t always happen, and I feel anxious at the possible disappointment my guests might feel.
They don’t. And they won’t. Because ultimately this is their moment to respond to… Regardless of what planning or navigating I do, they’re all going to react in their own way, entirely out of my control.
These aren’t clients to be managed, with performance metrics to refer back to. They won’t be evaluating whether or not my itineraries, my routes, my suggested meals met their expectations…!
They’re friends, they’re family, and they’re here to make their own experiences as well.
I guess part of it is just the excitement and energy I feel at the prospect of being able to experience as much of this wacky, amazing place as I can with my little unit. Maybe it’s enough to just land on sharing that enthusiasm as my ‘responsibility.’… The rest of the details will follow….
And when in doubt, hop on a subway. That will still blow most visitors minds for a little while at least…


Making eyes

I tripped going up the 5-flights of stairs today at Grand Central, emerging from the bowels of the subway… After waiting at the first set of stairs for almost 8 minutes due to a backlog of people, I got a little overzealous when I finally reached the 5 flight section that I normally methodically make my way up, in between two jammed escalators.

But I fell.
Not in the slightest bit hurt, other than my ego.

But I was again reminded of how my preconception of New Yorkers as being general rude a-holes was entirely unfounded.

Within seconds three separate commuters all turned ( it was difficult not to notice the loud thud that were my hands smacking down to break my fall on the hideously dirty rubber runners in the steps) and asked ‘you ok?’ ‘ Fine fine, thanks.’ Was my awkward, but appreciative response.

People have talked to me about how you rarely make eye contact on the street here. And whether it’s because I was intentionally ( and again , awkwardly) seeking out eyes, or just a happy Thursday coincidence, I ended up having multiple acknowledging moments on my commute. They weren’t of the ‘oh hi, happy lady!’ interactions, but rather a ‘there’s another human. cool.’ interaction. But it’s more than I expected.

Speaking of eyes and eye contact… We’ve finally started seeing celebrities. And we are very, very subtle in our reactions, which have ranged from frantic and illegible texts between us urging for the sighter to get a damn photo, to selfies with the celebrities photo-bombing ( we’re positioning them as such of course), to full-fledged, intentional arm brushing, to nearly running into one’s ass ( Eli, not us). Eventually we’ll get our city feet. Maybe.
Over the weekend we saw Liev Schreiber, John Krasinski, Jeff Goldbloom, Taran Killam, and Meryll Streep.

Who’s butt did Eli almost touch?

Giving Thanks

It’s Thanksgiving Monday back in Canada today, and our little unit was lucky enough to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together last night in our new home.

Partially home-cooked, and partially NYC style, with cooked turkey and mashed potatoes courtesy of Whole Foods….

I was also thankful to have actually successfully chilled the bleep out for a day on a weekend at long last… I had the itchy feeling to check out one of the 86 fall festivals or new exhibit openings, or explore a new neighbourhood, or try a new restaurant for us….
But the kids had doctor’s appointments mid-way through the day on Sunday (kids need to have a doctor’s form signed when entering into the school system), and to reward them for having been poked twice, we took a nice leisurely stroll to the nearest coffee shop, treated them to a chocolatey browny cupcake mass, and enjoyed our treats at our waterfront park…
And that was it!
Finally, a happy glimpse into taking it easy. Exploring and mind-blowing will all happen. And now moments of calm, of giving thanks, of keeping things simple will hopefully happen on occasion as well…

<purple glasses courtesy of Brett taking the kids to a 3D movie the rainy day previous while I was out gallivanting with Jordon visiting town>



Dogs and drama

I’m not much a theatre person. I’m just not. It’s not that I have anything against it, necessarily, but it just hasn’t been something I have sought out that much.
But I’m living in NYC and it’s my responsibility to expose myself to it already. This city is bubbling with talent. And dreams. And probably more people than not who aren’t going to make it. Either because they just aren’t good enough, because they haven’t made the right contacts, they haven’t been in the right place at the right time…. Or a combination of a few of these…Either way, I owe it to them trying to check out a show or 2…

So I’m thankful that Jordon invited me to join him at Eyes Wide Whut, I mean Sleep No More.
I sort of knew what to expect, so I wasn’t completely panicked. But mildly.  The cocktail on the rooftop helped. As did the 2nd cocktail in the ‘hotel’ bar. That helped.
I’m really glad that I went. I still don’t really know what happened or what it was all about, but it was definitely an experience. And I stalked John Krasinski. (He might have rolled his eyes at me gawking at him, but I’m not sure. ) And wore a mask for the duration of the performance . Or experience? What the hell am I supposed to call it anyway?

If that wasn’t weird enough, our routine was disrupted this morning with Brett having an early offsite meeting.
I did double kid drop, and had extra time, so I thought to grab some breakfast. You see, we had enough food in the house only for the kids to eat breakfast. Really. In the past I would have called that bad planning. Now, I just call it ‘grab something at one of the 87 coffee shops within a 3 block radius.’ And I chose a bakery. A BAKERY. And although the item had quinoa and spelt in it, it was nonetheless a scone. A SCONE. That’s a bad choice.
The next bad choice was thinking that I could eat it on the street on the way to the subway.
Smeared dog shit and meter high garbage bag piles lining the blocks. Who knew it was garbage day today? Smelled amazing.

At least I saw this ridiculousness and laughed…that dog was actually a cow. Or a horse.


Life Is Fast, Banks Are Not

We have done everything as well as we could have so far in this relocation, but the one thing that you can’t escape are banks.

We had EVERYTHING setup and ready to go well before our boots were on the ground, but paying rent, moving money and applying for a US credit card have been glacial endeavours.

We went with a very solid Cross Border Banking program through TD and the customer service has been awesome, but everything is taking its’ sweet time to complete.  We’ve got our last few (large) bills in Canada to pay as well as our mortgage payment etc., but getting money across borders and institutions has been a frustrating process.

For any of you relocating as well, make sure you have enough buffer funds back in Canada to account for the month long credit application process south of the border (though TD is using our canuck credit rating for it – which is pretty cool), the 5 business day EFT holds and the “Pending” status on your money that just seems to take longer than it should, given that everything is electronic.  1 or 0 – it’s on or off I tell ya!

While I was googling ways to make it faster, I stumbled upon these gems of wisdom from a fellow expat in the US.

Some sage advice, split into 3 sections.  Visas, Customs and Banking. An invaluable read.

On a completely unrelated topic, my parents returned to Canuckistan this morning.  They had been with us for a week and helped out with the kids a metric tonne!  It was a bit tight in our 1100 square foot apartment  for 6 people and a dog, but it was all good in the end.  My dad and I were able to score tickets to a a rangers game last Friday and it was pretty sweet!



Hey, can I come?

I think I just invited my family to trick or treat with a group of other families in the West Village. I asked in innocent question about how trick or treating works when you live in an apartment tower, and she said that they go to the houses in the West Village as it has a nicer feel. I responded with a ‘Oh! That sounds great!’, which I think was interpreted as a ‘oOh- can I come too?’.
She graciously extended an invite.
(Next question is though- do parents here also take booze in their sippy, I mean coffee cups, or is that just something that happens in Calgary to keep the shivering parents warm? Or is that just something my family does? )

Is it that my pride has flown out the window since moving here, being so challenged and humbled, that I actually invited myself along to something?
Nah- it’s that it sounds so iconic and awesome, and it’s part of the reason that we chose to move here. To expose our little ones to these experiences, which, really, they probably will just take in stride, but Brett and I will truly understand the significance of.
That’s another irony. There are so many parts of the equation of the rationale behind our choice to move. But a big one was the breadth of experiences we’d be offering our children by living in a world centre like NYC for a part of their childhood.
The sadness and beauty of that is that I wonder just how much they will really understand about the exposure they’re getting. Of course they won’t really understand it, yet. But on the other hand, that’s what we also want- for them to be oblivious to the change, to be adjusted, to be adapted, to be happy and just going with it all.
We’ve had some pretty involved weeks behind us, and as I start to look forward to this weekend, I have a goal to keep things simple and relaxing for one weekend. (I’ve heard that before)

And I legitimately don’t know how to do that yet in a city like New York!
Lazing about the apartment will work for a bit, and we’ll gladly embrace that, but eventually kids get tired of playing in our cozy space and we all start to feel a little crowded. So that loses it’s relaxing feel…!
Maybe it’ll be a weekend of enjoying Fall in the city. Nice and simple.

Seriously- how can we go wrong?

Just don’t. Over.…!


Near or far

Yesterday marked the 4th annual Walk for Thomas, and the first where I wasn’t involved in the day-of organization of the flagship walk back in Calgary.
In spite of me moving my family and my life mid-way through the planning, a team of dedicated, loving, and passionate people still pulled off another amazing event, remembering the life of Thomas, and raising awareness for a rare and deadly disease.
Hours of preparation, of sadness, and hope goes into this event- I know it too well.
It is all worth it, and then some, of course.
As I was going through all of the posts of our extended Walk for Thomas friends and family, literally around the world, I was overcome with a warmth and comfort. So many good people. Good.
An awful, a sad, a painful experience uniting people by a common thread of… Hope? Of committing to appreciate your days just a little bit more? Of recognizing the fragility and injustice in so much? Of promising to be a bit more patient, a bit more gentle, a bit more greatful of our children?

We’d been here 2 weeks when I got the courage to invite coworkers to join us in walking this year.
With only 3 weeks notice, and only 2 weeks of knowing who the hell Brett and I even were, we were again amazed at these virtual strangers’ generosity and care.
We met bright and early in stunning Central Park, walked our walk, and enjoyed a breakfast together afterwards.
Such kindness. Such goodness.

There’s a lot of scariness in my days right now, to be honest. A lot of excitement and energy, sure, but some scariness.
Knowing that our little network of support has the chance to grow just a bit even with these kind of people is reassuring.

Bring it, Monday…;)