Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Swimming in Sewage, Part Deux

To pick up where we left off . . . 

As I walked down Carroll Street from Fourth Avenue, I found the water level getting higher. Suddenly. Within three steps I found myself waist deep in sewage.

This is, by the way, not an exaggeration. I had to lift my purse in the air so that my iPhone didn't get saturated. In sewage.

I could almost feel the bacteria creeping through my epidermis. Except for the time that I stepped inside rat guts in Central Park on Thanksgiving Day, I have never been so scheeved. But even slipping in rat intestines couldn't compare to swimming in sewage. WIth the rat, it was only my foot, inside a shoe, that was immersed. In the sewage situation, it was my whole body, a multi sensory shitstorm.

Just as it appeared I might be forced to doggie paddle my way down to Third Avenue, the water level dropped and soon I was on dry land again. A gaggle of mechanics at a car repair shop were standing under their awning, watching me. They were laughing their asses off.

"Hey," one of them shouted, "That's sewer water,"

"I know!" I shrieked back. I stood in front of them,  my clothes so sopping set that my skirt was hanging nearly falling off form the weight of the water.

I then speed walked the rest of the block to Primo's camp, my skins crawling. At drop off, I'd noticed a rack of T shirts in the from room and this seemed incredibly fortuitous now, since I estimated that I could tolerate another two minutes of being in the swear clothes before I had a vomiting fit. I would be stripping down naked in two minutes and it would really be preferable that there be another item of clothing for me to wear at that point because otherwise Primo could  never show hs face back in camp, much less my face. So i'd change into a T shirt. I only hoped they had one large enough to cover my ss. Because there was no doubt in my mind that if they did not, I'd walk home bottom-less. Done and done. Yes, it would be humiliating but it was better than catching cholera. I know you can't catch cholera from keepings sewage-sokaed clothes on for five extra minutes but what can I tell you? I wasn't thinking rationally. I was deranged.

Thirty seconds later I was at Primo's camp.

"MOMMY!" Primo yelled, "Did you see the rain?"

"Yes," I replied, "As a matter of fact I did."

And then turning to the gaggle of teenager counselors by the door I said," I just swam in sewage. On Fourth Avenue."

They looked at me blankly, like I was speaking another language. I realized they kind of couldn't care less but I had to tell someone about it immediately. So I continued.

"It was up to my waist. I'm not kidding. Can you smell this? Can you smell the sewer on me?"

One of the guy teenagers said, "Ummm, yeah?" in an attempt to get me to wrap the crazy tirade up.

"I need a T shirt. The biggest one you've got."

He rifled through the rack of T shirts and handed me one which was XXL, the which  I took directly into the bathroom. I then peeled off my skirt and shirt and hoodie and deposited them in the garbage. It was a good thing I haven't worn an attractive piece of clothing in five months since I had the baby or else I might have lost some decent apparel. I had to pause when I got to my underwear. That stumped me. On the one hand, it was as soaked in sewage as the rest and should go. On the other hand, the chance that I'd have to cross another sewer rive on the way home was pretty high and if I had to swim in sewage again WITHOUT ANY UNDERWEAR ON, I'd die. I wouldn't wait around to see what VD floated up inside of my privates. I'd just perish, period, on the spot.Better a compromised barrier than no barrier at all. So the underwear stayed on.

Before I put on the clean T shirt, I gave myself a bath in the bathroom sink. A half bath, from the waist down. It was tricky to scrub my legs in the tiny sink but, by George, I managed it. I then washed my shoes, and dried off with paper towels. Then I put on the XXL T shirt which came nearly to my knees, thankfully.

"Mommy what happened to your clothes?" Primo asked, laughing.

"Garbage," I replied, "They were compromised,"

"Mommy, no offense but you look like a crazy person," he observed, still laughing.

"I am aware of that," I told him, "Its OK. I just hope you don't have to go through the sewage on the way home. Let's just keep our wits about us."

He didn't have to, incidentally, I circumvented the massive puddles by walking down Third Avenues which for some reason was untouched. There was still Armaggedon like thunder and lightening but by this point that was child's play to me. When we reached my grandmother's door, she stood there speed less.

"Wat de hell happen to you?" she finally managed.

"I can't talk about it right now," I told her, " I have to get in the shower."

You can imagine the zeal with which I scrubbed my body clean then  . . . . and later that night  . . . and again the next morning. I was like Lady Macbeth with the damn spot. I just couldn't get clean enough. For a while I thought the sewage incident might send me over the edge of sanity, take me to a land of OCD from which I'd never return. They'd coin a new expression after me, "She's just one sewage swim away from the looney bin."

But after three showers, I felt satisfied. I had no open wounds, thankfully, and I hadn't drink the stuff. I might avoid cholera after all.

The next day, when I dropped Primo off at camp, I shuddered crossing Carroll Street. Wouldn't you?

Monday, September 24, 2012

I am Sewer Mom

Recently, I went swimming in sewage. Even for those who enjoy extreme spots, I don't recommend it. Sewage stinks. It is very unpleasant to swim in it.

It was a few weeks ago at the tail end of summer and the kids were still in summer camp. Just before pickup, my grandmother called me, as she likes to do, to tell me it was raining. I blew off her warnings, as I like to do, demising them as the wild ravings of a neurotic woman.

"I'm not going to MELT in the WATER," I assured her, "I'll be fine."

"Leave de baby wit me," she pleaded.

"Fine," I conceded, doing her a big favor and letting her babysit.

It was pouring buckets when I picked up Seconda from camp, and the thunder and lightning was so intense and cataclysmic that I actually jumped a few times. I really didn't want to get hit by lightning. Life's hard enough with all my wits intact. When the rain didn't let up after I'd gotten Sec, I thought maybe I should bring her by my grandmother's house and go get Primo myself. Her place was on the way after all.

By the time we got to my grandmother's, I was soaked through. Wringing wet. I popped upstairs, put on a hoodie which I had some naive idea would protect me from further saturation, grabbed an umbrella for Primo, then promptly set on my way. It was true that the super-cool engineering camp I'd sent him to for the week offered after school care by the half hour, but I didn't want to pay the extra $5 for another 30 minutes. Besides, a little rain couldn't hurt me.

A little hail, on the other hand, could. And did. Two blocks into my walk and I was being assaulted by hail, enough that I was muttering "What the fuck?" over and over, out loud to myself. A little like a crazy person. The hail got so hard I ducked into a hair salon for cover.

When it was clear that the hailstorm wasn't about to let up anytime soon, I figured I might as well just get it over with and rushed out into the thunder and lightning again. When I got to Fourth Avenue and First Street, I was stopped short at the intersection because the curb was flooded in sewage. The manhole had popped off and a geyser of sewage was spewing into the street. The stench was pretty damn revolting.

There is no way I am wading through that, I thought, But on the other hand, I have no choice.

I trudged through the mammoth puddle, which reached my mid-calf. It was nasty and full of floating pieces of garbage but it was over fast  -- until I got to the next intersection where the water level was even higher.

Fuck me, I thought, grimacing.

But I was nearly to Primo's camp so I screwed my courage to the sticking place and stepped in. This puddle reached my knee, dragging the bottom of my skirt down.

Now I stunk, really stunk. The thunder and lightning intensified, as did my shouting expletives.

Well, at least I've only got one more street to cross, I figured, The worst is over.

I was only halfway down the street -- in between Garfield and Carroll -- when I realized the worst was definitely not over. I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk because the water was already up to my ankle and I hadn't even made it to the intersection yet. The sewage water was LAPPING in waves over the sidewalk back and forth, back and forth. On the street, the water was up to the level of the car bumpers. Huge black garbage bags were floating down Fourth Avenue, as if it were a river. I couldn't even see the intersection, there was so much water,

At that point, I climbed up a small ledge in front of a new condo development so that I'd be out of the sewage water and called David.

"What the hell am I supposed to do?" I asked him, "I can't go home without Promo and even if I could, I'd have to trudge back through the massive sewage puddles I crossed already. But I can't cross Fourth Avenue. I just can't. It is an actual river of sewage. Seriously."

A clap of thunder erupted directly over my head.

"I also can't stand here and wait," I told him, "Or I am going to get struck by lightning."

"You better just get it over with and get that boy," David concluded. He's not much in the pep talk department.

So I jammed my cell phone deep in my purse, took a deep breath and just went for it. It was nasty getting to the intersection and then jumping off the curb was a real leap of faith because I couldn't even see the asphalt under the sewage water. It was as gross as I'd feared, sewage up to my knees.

"Ugh eh fuck bleh ugh meh fuck,"I moaned.

I was close to gagging when I got to the other side of Fourth Avenue, but at leas, it was over. I could rest easy now. I was done trudging through sewage.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Riddle me this

Seconda rad a library book this week featuring a stinky giant who tells a bunch of riddles. This has got her really into telling riddles, most of which she makes up and which are not riddles, in the typical sense. Or any sense, actually. They are not even jokes, in point of fact. They are more like lines of dialogue from a Richard Foreman play. I quite enjoy them.

Primo, on the other hand, knows real riddles, being almost 8 and all. So a few days ago, he asked Sec to riddle him this:

"What has four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon and three legs in the evening?"

Because of course, that Primo, my inimitable boy, knows the riddle of the Sphinx.

Seconda considered a moment, obviously churning the gears in her mind. Four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon, three in the evening? The answer was clear.

"A BARRACUDA!!!!!" she squealed. She said it with confidence and triumph, in her inimitable way, fully assured it was the only answer one could come up with.

All of us laughed, even the baby, and Seconda too.

"That exchange right there," I told David, "That about says it all. That just typifies who each of them are. And why I love each of them so goddamned much."

He couldn't help but agree.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sleep training: why alcoholic beverages were invented

For a long time, Terza was a great sleeper. I was loathe to even admit what a great sleeper  she was because I didn't want to jinx myself. But at the same time, I figure I should savor these positive developments because they do tend to be few and far between. I knew I should have trusted my first instinct and never expressed gratitude and appreciation for small favors. Because as soon as I took Terza to her four month checkup and told the doctor, "She's a great sleeper!" she ceased being one. In fact, she became an abysmal sleeper, just awful.

At first, I thought she was teething. Or had an ear infection. Or was experiencing some thrilling milestone. But the doctor took a look at her and said that none of that stuff was happening. And every night, her wakings got more frequent  -- at first, she was just weirdly waking once or twice more than she normally did, and within a few days, she was waking every hour. It was, like so much in parenting, a little problem that grew into a big problem fast. I went from nursing the baby two or three times a night to nursing her constantly, taking her in bed and keeping her attached to the boob. And even THAT didn't work. Which is when I realized the time had come for sleep training. Thankfully, I've already done this with two children so I'm an expert, right?

Wrong. Because I've basically blocked out everything that occurred over a year ago out, to save my sanity. All I remember is that the first night we sleep trained Primo, he cried for an hour and that the first night we sleep trained Seconda she cried for five minutes. I figured Terza would have to fall in between the two. I called my best friend, Miriam, who had her first daughter nine months ago and read no less than five different books cover to cover about sleep training and I told her to give me the bullet points. Just the facts, please. So desperate was I to wrestle the chaos of Terza's sleep into some sort of order, I decided in the middle of my conversation with Miriam, to start immediately.

"Hold on," I told her, "I'm going to put the baby down right now and start sleep training. Right now."

So Miriam listened to Terza scream for forty minutes and told me exactlywhat to do. That, as they say, is what friends are for.

By the time David got home from work, I'd already gotten three check-and-console cry-it-out sessions under my belt.

"This shit is on like Donkey Kong," I told him.

And that night, probably exhausted from her daytime crying fits, she slept better. A lot better. It helped that I absented myself from the process by sleeping in Primo's bunk bed, while he slept with at his greg grandmother's house. I woke after six hours to a sharp pain in my breasts. I'd take the engorgement for sleep any day.

Its been two weeks and all I can say is, its no magic bullet. That sounds a rather drastic metaphor. Its no panacea. The baby will go down without a tear for three days in a row than cry for an hour at night for a week then cry for every nap for a day then not cry at all again. There's no rhyme or reason to it. But its better than nothing. And also, all I got. Isn't that just the story of parenting?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Toxic Bobsled

The kids are in my front hallway, where I've relegated them since the baby is sleeping and they are playing what sounds like a VERY fascinating game. Primo is coming up with a whole bunch of obstacles for his sister all of which involve her getting past him in the narrow hallway while he pretends to be supernatural evil creatures. He started with generic spooky creatures, so at first he was a vampire and a goblin and a zombie but then he just let go and transitioned over to really freaky things. What I like best about this game is how much Seconda is going for it, totally accepting whatever weird scenarios he sets up.

"OK so now I'm a toxic bobsled and you have to get by without touching the blanket I'm holding up," said Primo. 

"OK but what part of the body does the toxic bloodsucker attach to?" asked Seconda, "Like is it your arm or legs or your butt or what?"

Good God, this is terrifying shit. My kids could write horror movies. 

"No, no, no," said Primo, "Not a toxic bloodsucker, a toxic bobsled."

Because that makes so much more sense. 

"Ok now I'm an evil skeleton and in this level, I can take off my bones and hit you over the head with them and you have to get by without making any sound effects."

"OK, now I'm the Phantom of the Opera and I throw chandeliers and if you get hit by one, you're dead."

"But I don't want to be dead.," Seconda pipes up.

"Well, you'll only be dead for three seconds. Then you'll come back to life. By the way, if it touches your skin, you leak blood and the chandelier turns red. OK?"


"And then for the last level, I'll be the grim reaper and I will have a skeleton sword which makes me unable to bleed. He is your hardest enemy because if he wins then he throws a portal at you and you go through it and begin all over again."

A lot of the time what they play sounds painfully dull but this game is off the hook. If I had more energy,  I'd totally play this. As it is I'll have to just listen in and blog about it.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Brooklyn Cyclone -- again?

Over the weekend, we had another twister in Brooklyn. See for yourself:

Kinda reminds me of the Tornado in Park Slope that traumatized my prophetic son for almost a year. Who knew Brooklyn was such a twister target?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

One Day More!

Yes, I am singing the song from Les Miserables. It perfectly expresses the thrill and excitement I feel, combined with a heavy dose of foreboding and dread. This has been the Longest Summer Ever and I can't wait another day for these kids to be off at school, being productive members of society or at least someone else's charge for a while. They need the break from each other; being stuck in this tiny apartment, constantly being shushed so they don't wake the baby who sleeps every two hours. has not been a situation conducive to sibling harmony. Too much togetherness. So, it will be a relief for all when Primo and Seconda get their friends back, and get their worlds expanded a bit.

But, of course, no one is excited for the return of homework and the mad race to drop off and standardized testings and packing lunches and bullies on the playground and mean lunch ladies and all the rest of the stress and weight which is Back to School.

So, I'm singing night-before-the-battle songs. Once more into the breech, dear friends, once more.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My cracking knees gonna wake the baby

The baby's been a pretty good sleeper. For a baby. Still, when I put her down in her bassinet, I am always in terror that she'll wake up, because she does, at least fifty percent of the time. The other day I was lowering her into the bassinet, ever so gently, releasing one finger at a time, as if she were a bomb I was trying not to detonate which is precisely the case. I managed to transfer her to a surface apart from my chest and was just rising from my squatting position near her bassinet when my knee joints cracked.

It was a sound as thunderous to my ears as a fire engine roaring by.

i cursed my decrepit knees as I stood there frozen, waiting for the cry to emanate out of the bassinet.

When did I get so damn old that my freaking joints crackle like kindling in a fire?

And when did I get so crazy that I worry about this waking the baby?

This is my THIRD BABY. I am supposed to be chill and confident and GOOD at parenting by now.