February 23, 2004

I was published for the first and only time. In honor of the anniversary of that momentous occasion, an edited reprint:

I thought it would be easy to move from a 2000 sf house into an “itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-yellow-polka-dot” two-bedroom Soldiers Field Park (SFP) apartment. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t bikini cute (or even polka-dotted), but I figured I could tough it out for two years.

Really, what’s sacrificing a little space when the alternative was spending $700 more for a third bedroom? With that kind of money I could buy 10 new pairs of shoes, or host a slamming Girls’ Night, or spend a weekend in Paris – and not just once, but every month!

After all, I was being realistic. I just kept telling myself that my kids are young and don’t require much space. And we’d spend most of our time outside, anyway.

I don’t know what psycho, rose-colored glass world I was trying to live in.

Addy (age 4) and Jack (age 1) can’t sleep in the same room. Addy coughs, Jack wakes up and cries, Addy wakes up and yells, Nate (NA) wakes up and gets mad, and I try to smother myself with a pillow.

After a few nights, Addy started sleeping in my bed and I resigned myself to the couch. Don’t get me wrong - it’s a comfy couch . . . but I like my bed better.

So now no one was sleeping well (except maybe the kids, but at this minute they don’t count.) And you know the saying, “If Mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” That became my new reality.

I was tired of seeing my living room covered in toys and my kitchen sink full of dishes (that’s right, my teeny-weeny apartment was too small for a dishwasher.)

I was tired of Jack climbing from the radiator to the couch to the desk across the computer keyboard to get to the phone (he’s a fan of 10-10-321.)

I was tired of Addy harvesting junk mail from the desk garbage can for coloring media (what kind of mother lets her kid play with trash?)

I was tired of having to unload half of my front closet to get to the vacuum, or the toy shelf, or the laundry detergent, or my winter coat, or a fresh jar of spaghetti sauce, or a stroller (really, all that stuff, and more, fit into my front closet – it’s called “creative space-saving”).

I was tired of the walls closing in on me after an eternity of sub-freezing temperatures.

Frankly, I was just tired.

I needed to be back in my own bed, and I didn’t feel like roughing it anymore. I didn’t even care about the extra $700 a month anymore (and that’s saying a ton, as anyone who knows me will attest.)

So I called the HRES Future & Immediate Housing listing. As luck would have it, there were a number of three bedroom units available – two in SFP and two in One Western Avenue (OWA).

We toured each apartment and measured the layouts (and closet rod space).

Apartment 3A in SFP was a townhouse style unit. I swear it was bigger than my three bedroom with full basement and ½ acre fenced yard-place in Pennsylvania (it’s amazing what tight quarters do to your space perception, even after only a couple months.) And by golly, it even had a dining room. I started dreaming about hosting one of those Section A small group dinner parties.

I could overlook having to travel with my laundry to another building, and having to venture outside in sub-zero weather to get to the parking garage. And I could overlook all the stairs.

Wait, no I couldn’t.

Jack may be rough and tumble, but after our Halloween day visit to the ER for a nasty fall off my four foot high bed (again, “creative space-saving” at work), I wasn’t going to take a chance.

Which meant that unit 9A in SFP was also out.

We also immediately eliminated #136 in OWA – it was only about 200 square feet bigger than our two bedroom SFP place, and it faced busy Western Ave on the ground floor. It didn’t have elevator access to the soon-to-be-finished (wishful thinking at the time) parking garage, AND you had to leave the building to get to the mailroom and the laundry room. AND . . . it cost the same as all the other (bigger and better) three bedroom units at OWA.

Sounds like a real winner, huh? I didn’t have to wonder why that unit was still empty.

Now we were left with only one viable alternative - a unit in the OWA tower.

(I’m not going to disclose the apartment number, because anyone with deductive reasoning skills would know that it’s where I now live. And let’s face it folks, I have a 1 year-old and a 4 year-old, so I really don’t need another stalker.)

I will admit I was a little put off by the architecture. If this is what form came up with, I really think function should have won out. (I doubt I was the first to question OWA. I mean it’s weird looking, has a weird layout, and does anyone else think it’s weird to reserve the top three floors for mechanical space? Can a heating unit really appreciate the view?)

But the swipe card granted us entry to the building without having to “do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight” as I was used to doing with the SFP door key.

The elevator came when it was called and asked how high on the way up. And when the apartment door opened we entered our own little nirvana. After all, this place had 320 inches of closet rod - a 60% increase over our old place (I may not be an HBS student, but yeah, I can do the math.)

The apartment had a dishwasher and overhead lighting in the bedrooms, and central A/C, and thermostats, and solid-surface countertops, and two super-huge, what-the-heck-am-I-going-to-do-with-all-this-space bathrooms! Who could ask for anything more? (Maybe a new Toyota? 2004 Sienna, preferably.)

Nate drew our floor plan and cut out miniature pieces of paper furniture to make sure everything would fit just right. (Yeah he’s a little “detail oriented”. But if he didn’t do it I would have. And he’s better with the graph paper.)

So to make a long story short (or is it too late for that?), we said, “oh yes, yes, yes” and, “thank you very much” and moved into our new place on the last day of finals.

So now I’m enjoying this Boston winter (can anyone really do that?) in the warmth and space (and at one point, flooding – but that’s another story) of my fabulously expensive OWA apartment.

Addy has her own bedroom, and Jack has his own bathroom, my desk phone and garbage have their own office, and I have my own bed back.

Our days are filled with “short-cuts” to the mailroom (up the elevator to the 6th floor, across the bridge, down the elevator to the 2nd floor, through the court, down the elevator to the lobby, and into the mailroom) where we have a super-sized mailbox (meaning fewer trips to the Spangler post office, which isn’t open on Saturdays, for packages that didn’t quite fit), and doing laundry where the hour-long dryer cycle is only 56 minutes.

So what if my bedroom door is too thick for my over-the-door shoe rack, and so what if I have to venture out at 7 am every Sunday to find my Boston Globe because the carrier leaves it in some obscure lobby that only a handful of people ever enter (I suppose s/he is as confused by the architecture as I am?)

And it isn’t too much of a bother that the fire alarms are hypersensitive and over active.

And who really needs more than one phone jack per line? (No one ever talks on the phone in the living room, so I’m glad they saved on installing a jack there.)

What it all comes down to is this:

Mom’s happy again. (At least until I have to look at the CitiAssist Loan balances.)

And yes, Section A, I’d love to host a small group dinner, even without the dining room.


Now I'm always-on(line)

Cox Cable finally has its greedy little fingers in my pocketbook.

Lucky them.

Lucky me.

No more trips to the library. At least not for anything other than books.

Unfortunately it was prudent to give up DishNetwork and my AT&T landline to get the Cox bundle package pricing with free installation and a free cable modem. No biggie on the landline (a call's a call), but I'm seriously grieving my DishNetwork DVR.

Cox's digital cable and "PVR" sucks. Sorry for the strong language.

But it does.

I guess this first step is necessary if I'm eventually gonna wean myself off paid programming. See - I've admitted I have a problem. But that doesn't make the withdrawal symptoms any less painful.


I'm Yours . . .

I rather quite enjoy "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. The tune is catchy, the lyrics are generally up-lifting and singable ... really, what's not to like?

Well, there is one phrase that at first simply confused me. But now it bugs me. I'm sure before long it will really irritate me, although I hope not so much that I can no longer listen to the song without cringing.

"Listen to the music of the moment people, dance and sing
We're just one big family
And it's our God-forsaken right to be loved loved loved loved loved"

Anyone else find that third line to be a little odd? I'm not sure what JM was intending when he wrote that line - since when did God start forsaking your right to be loved? Maybe he meant it as a subtle dig at the religious right-wing, or maybe he just needs a vocabulary refresher.

Either way, I'm not impressed.

That's what friends' (husbands) are for

So today my car wouldn't start for the last time. The battery is dead.

Not just tired.


But why would the battery on a car less than 4 years old be dead? Because I have Things, that's why. Things who like to turn on reading lights in the middle of the day. Things that can't remember to turn off said reading lights because they didn't need them on in the first place.

And my fancy-dancy mini-van with 16 cup-holders, 2 glove boxes, in-floor storage, fold-flat seats, tushie warmers, and a handy-dandy removable jump-seat (all graciously included in an ergonomic design for the comfort and convenience of moms everywhere) fails to incorporate any indicator that interior lights are left on when the car is turned off.

Sure - there's a beep-beep here if you leave your headlights on (handy when it's a drab day and you forgot you turned on the lights when you turned on the wipers, even though it's the law), and a beep-beep there if you leave your keys in the ignition (makes sense - you wouldn't want an unauthorized someone to drive away when you just stepped out of the car for a short moment - especially if that someone is a Thing), but there's no beep-beep to warn you that your car won't start the next time you try to leave the garage because your Things had an irresistible urge to push on the sparkly crystal/plastic reading light in the middle of the afternoon.

Kinda kills the comfort and convenience factor Honda was trying to sell with their re-designed mom-van.

But can't you just jump-start that battery? Why, yes Virginia, you can - and I did.

But then you need to devote an hour or so driving around (or sitting idle) to make sure the battery fully charges. Otherwise you just end up with a dead battery again.

And again.

And again.

Apparently I don't have an hour to devote. I guess I was just hoping the battery would magically repair itself without all that inconvenient car time.

But it didn't. And this morning I had a hair-cut appointment (it turned out very cute, thanks for asking.) But the car wouldn't start. And I was already late. We had to run - or at least Ellie did - I just walked fast and Sketch rode in the stroller. Very reminiscent of Boston living ... life on foot. But that only works when your destination is relatively close and/or your route doesn't require the use of the freeway. Luckily my fabulous new stylist lives just down the hill.

After school/nap time (the baby's, not mine) I planned to jump-start the car and head to Costco for a new battery. I had my wrench and my flashlight ready (by then it would be dark.) I loaded the Things into the car and hooked up my Black & Decker thingie.

I flipped the switch, waited a minute, then started the car.


Well, yes - until my fried brain misdirected my impulse to open the garage door to prevent CO poisoning and accidentally instructed my hand to instead turn off the ignition.

Batteries really don't like that kind of psych-out. One false start and all hopes of making it to Costco were down the drain.

Did I mention Nate is in New York? And his car is in the SNA airport parking lot? And Thing 3 has her very first dance class early tomorrow morning?

Situations like this are precisely why friends have husbands. Thanks for sharing yours, Kimber. Watching Mike install the battery he bought and brought over only solidified the apprehensive vision I had of wrestling a heavy and uncooperative battery from the clutches of an unyielding engine cavity in the dark of a poorly lit Costco parking lot.

Thankfully no one had to witness (or act out) such a scene. Now my car starts when it's supposed to and the thingie I've been driving around with for the last week can be put back on the shelf in the garage.

And fear not, faithful readers. I've learned my lesson and have now permanently engaged the interior lights override switch. The Things can push on the sparkly crystal/plastic reading lights to their hearts' content and get absolutely no satisfaction.


I have no internet

I'm at the library right now, trying to accomplish on online to-do list while tuning out the 4 teenage boys engaged in car talk:

"The new Audi is way cooler than the new Infiniti."


"I don't want to buy an Acura because the parts are too expensive."


Shut up and study or the lousy job you end up with will mean the best car you can afford is the 7 year old Nissan Sentra with bald tires and a bad paint job that's currently in the Big Lots parking lot. And by then it will be 13 years old.

Sorry if I'm a little irritable. I miss my internet connection. And when I say "my" I mean the unsecured wireless signal called "linksys" that wafts into my bonus room. After 2 1/2 years it doesn't work anymore (my mom warned this day would come.) And, as a result, I've been spending much time at the library, and much time on the phone with Jeff, the Cox cable guy. Maybe when he puts together a attractive enough package I'll give in and pay for broadband.

Until then you can find me at the library. Along with all the teenage boys that don't have any girls to hang out with because they spend too much time talking about stupid cars they'll only ever look at in magazines.

I'll be the one wearing the "PITHY" necklace.