Ramblings: Just a Walk in the Park...










Memorial Day weekend always reminds me of moving to NYC – the heat, the humidity, the laziness of the first holiday of the year since New Year’s Day in the middle of the bustle and noise of everyday life. Subsequent years bore beach days and hungover days; brunch times and walks in the city;  Long Island days and barbeques in Bushwick. Every year I longed for Memorial Day weekend to arrive so that I could celebrate the beginning of summer, my real favourite season in NYC. This year it crept up on me, my first Memorial Day as a family: a day where no one needed to work, a day to spend together as we see fit, no plans, just mother, father and baby time.

Nowadays it’s really just the simple things that matter: a walk in the park, watching the turtles watching you with their little heads sticking out of the water, looking at the squirrel scampering away with the acorn in its mouth, relaxing on a blanket under a tree and closing your eyes. Choosing a pretty spring outfit for yourself and your daughter, knowing full well that she doesn’t care if you are in a dress or pyjamas, or if she is in a onesie or a dress, but doing it anyway because it is fun and because you can. Walking along the sidewalk as a unit, mother, father, daughter, altogether as one, making jokes and gazing at the pretty houses and gardens, imagining together what our next home and garden will look like. Tickling your child under the chin with a blade of grass and listening to her laugh and hoping that you will hear that beautiful sound every day, forever.

Flushing ended up being a good choice for us, because despite the commute into Manhattan, it really is beautiful here. There are parks and gardens and trees and flowers everywhere and a happy alternative to the race of the city and all that it entails. As I was walking around the neighbourhood yesterday I realised just how much every single priority had changed for the better. A walk in the park is just so much more enjoyable now, as are all of those little things that we take for granted most of the time, the turtles and the squirrels and the naps in the grass, the smell of concrete after a rain shower, and the lilac bushes in bloom on the street corners. I guess this is what my real happiness is…

Ramblings: 38 Weeks and Still Growing...


It’s hard to accept the fact that you are allowed to be tired, that you are allowed to actually not really do anything all day except for watch that TV series that everyone has been telling you to watch for the past year. It’s hard for me, because most of the times in my life when I feel this tired it’s entirely my fault (out partying, up all night writing, stress-related insomnia), so I am so used to pushing myself through it that I feel guilty just letting go and just being tired.

Yesterday I woke up at 3am and couldn’t get back to sleep again for a lot of different reasons. I had to be up at 6am anyway due to an early doctor’s appointment. So I waddled my 38 week pregnant belly to the subway and went to the clinic in Fort Greene to get everything checked up. I guess I am now the one nearest her due date so everyone is very excited for me (they actually were all a lot more excited than I was, it took me enough energy to muster the courage to keep my eyes open during the appointment). I could give birth any day! I waddled back to the subway in the gorgeous sunshine, trying not to burst into tears until I got home.

And then I did what I have never done before, I asked my boss if she had anything important for me to do, because if not I was just going to rest. And guess what?! She told me to rest! Yes, Jade… There IS a reason you are working from home now, and this is because you are supposed to be resting! So for 10 minutes I tried to work, but numbers and words kept flying in front of my face and I couldn’t do anything correctly so I grabbed a cup of tea and went to the couch. Where I stayed until just after 8pm. And from the couch I graduated to the bed, and fell asleep, sleeping about 12 hours of interrupted sleep until this morning. You can’t be too demanding – there is no way on earth I can sleep more than 2 or 3 hours without having to get up. Bathroom trips, water drinking breaks and of course, a cheesecake eating break at 3am when C. got home. I still feel tired today, but more able to function. I think this is the new golden rule… No fighting the fatigue or the sleep: naps and bed whenever my body wants it.

So now the waiting game has begun. Any day now little Munchie could decide that she wants this to be her birthday and she will start making that journey towards daylight. While I would like her to wait until her due date of April 1st, I have now accepted the fact that she might want to come early, or that she might want to come late too. And that’s absolutely fine. I think I am ready to cope. Everything is pretty much ready (apart from all of her little baby clothes need to go to the laundry and I don’t know why we are procrastinating about that); she has a bed and a bouncy chair thing and blankets and clothes for every occasion and diapers and wipes and even heart-shaped sunglasses to match her mummy. She also has a hopefully endless supply of food that my body will provide for her (the alternative is not an option right now, so I really, really hope everything will work properly). And, so important, she has so much love waiting for her here, all that love that we hope we have projected into my womb over the past 9 months, and much, much more. So many people are waiting for her arrival and to finally meet her. Not the least her parents of course!

To be honest I think I have had a wonderful pregnancy, and I have been very lucky that up until a few weeks ago I really didn’t feel uncomfortable or too heavy. I’m not super huge, my weight gain stabilized in the third trimester (so much that I have actually lost a few pounds even though Munchie has gained quite a few); I’ve had a few aches and pains but nothing major. My feet only started swelling this week, after I started to work from home (so now I need to go for little walks every few hours so as not to sit at the table all day without really moving). I just recently had to develop an elaborate roll to get out of bed and that can only be done in at least 3 steps, and I don’t remember what it was like to jump out of bed in a spritely manner! Actually, I don’t remember what “normal” feels like anymore. What actually WAS “normal”?? I don’t really think I care, because that “normal” has gone, and will be replaced by another “normal”, one that I am more than ready to embrace. My main issue other than not being able to walk fast anymore (and I mean SLOW), is a burning pain I began to feel last month at the top of my belly on one side, that has now graduated towards the other side too. I realised that it’s basically from the skin stretching so much, but it wasn’t until I did some research on the web last night and read people describing it as just like a sunburn, without the redness (and without the sun, because that big golden orb has been on another planet for the past 3 months). Aloe Vera! Luckily I always have a big bottle of aloe in the cupboard as I spend enough time on the beach in the summer, and it really helps relive the soreness! Better than any other lotion that I have already tried. Who would have known that all you really need (outside of a good doctor or midwife) is a large bottle of aloe, a large bottle of Tums, a comfy body pillow and a healthy diet to get through these 9 (I mean 10) months? And yes, my iron level is STILL normal, even though I was anemic as a teen and I am a vegetarian. I guess I did something right by listening to my body. 

And I will continue listening to my body after Munchie is born. I’m not too worried about losing the extra weight immediately – it will happen naturally. My body has never been one to put on weight too fast, and if I make sure I get enough exercise I will be fine. I’m honestly looking forward to evening runs in Flushing, and using them to discover new places to go and new parks to take Munchie to in the summer.

Oh summer… I am looking forward to you. Showing my little daughter all of the things that I love about life: sunsets on the beach, waves, walking barefoot in the sand, listening to The Cure while dancing in the living room (not just for summer of course), and reading on a warm park bench under the trees… So much to be excited about!!! In the meantime I will continue to wait at home, not feel guilty about resting anymore, and watch as our cat follows me everywhere I go, just so that he knows that I am OK. Maybe the next post will be one with newborn pictures, or maybe it won’t – now that I am at home I have a little more time and energy to devote to catching up on writing. I say “a little” because a lot of that energy is put into making sure I am happy with how our apartment is set up. And catching up on TV shows. And thinking about making food, and then ordering salads from the delicious diner down the street.

That said, does anyone know where there is a regular supermarket in Flushing? One that isn’t Chinese and that sells an array of Western goods? I was so excited that we had a supermarket within walking distance, but it really doesn’t have a good selection of non-Chinese goods, and I need a little more for my palate!

(On a side note we are EXTREMELY grateful to everyone who has helped us out and given us gifts over the past few months. This alone deserves its own blog post and everyone will receive their own personal thanks, I promise, I am just a little slow at getting round to doing things these days. Without you all we would be having a much harder time getting through this, and the amount of love that we feel around us is extraordinary!). <3>

Ramblings: Happiness, Moving and Getting Closer to that Date

I’m so happy.

Despite the fact that it has snowed at least once a week since the beginning of the year, that the pavements are icy and slippery and despite the fact that the wind is bitterly cold. Despite the fact that my belly feels like it’s getting heavier by the day and despite the fact that I feel like my bones have expanded and I have become a clumsy woman with a waddle.

I’m so happy.

Every day I wake up and feel excited as well as nervous about the idea that we are one more day nearer the moment that I will give birth to our daughter, and therefore one more day closer to the fact that I am nowhere near ready. Or I don’t feel anywhere near ready. Mentally I have always felt ready, but practically I feel that there is so much more to do, so many things to fit into so little time. I know that everything will work out and I am forcing myself to stress out as little as I can about it. Which doesn’t make it too hard when I am walking around in such a state of happiness…


After signing the lease and then a lot of back and forth on getting the keys to the new place we finally have our new home in Flushing, Queens. It is fully renovated and cleaned and waiting for us to move in as soon as we can.  Our room in Brooklyn now looks in a state of distress, half full with boxes and half full with just stuff. My next steps are to cancel the electricity here and install a new account at the new place, find movers and decide on a day to move that is on the only day C. and I have off together, and then set up the new place in the way we want to before the baby arrives. That’s the really exciting part as we are really starting from scratch again, new couch, TV, dresser, tables… All furniture that we need to buy at some point in time. Nothing can be rushed though, for 3 weeks we practically lived like paupers so that we could pay the three months upfront for the apartment. Thankfully we work enough hours in a restaurant that we can eat most meals there, and I wasn’t too tired to take the subway home at 2am. The latter is only something I can do while still in Brooklyn as it’s only 6 stops away - once we get to Flushing I don’t think I will be doing the late nights anymore, so there won’t be the anxiety of having to find a cab that doesn’t charge you through the roof to take you to Queens…

We are now into the single digits, with 9 more weeks to go. I love how so many of my regular customers at work take a real interest in how the pregnancy is going and love to chat about it and hear updates. I love how everyone at work is excited to see the growth and excited to finally meet the baby. I also love how surreal it still seems to this day. Even after I finally managed to put my registry together another pregnant friend and I were walking around baby stores exclaiming how we still couldn’t believe that this was us, deciding on the best type of stroller rather than the cutest new party dress. I am pretty sure that I will always talk about the best party dress to pair with a Doc Marten boot, but nowadays I’m more into what type of sleepwear I want to dress my daughter in when she comes home from the hospital with me.

C. and I went for a tour of the Labour and Delivery department of Brooklyn Hospital the other day as that is where I will be having the baby if all goes to plan (and I really hope that it does).  It’s a lovely hospital (if you can actually say that about hospitals…). Not that I have much experience of hospitals – the last time I was in one for myself was when I was born. My knowledge of hospitals comes from the TV show ER. But I am determined to have my baby in a hospital. I want to have my baby naturally, but I want to be hooked up to monitors and have access to pain medication if I want to, and also be surrounded by people who can help if something goes wrong. Of course I am hoping that the delivery will be as easy and as great as my pregnancy has been – but who can predict that? Walking around the labour and delivery rooms, and then seeing the rooms that you stay in after the baby is born reassured me a lot, and made C. feel more nervous. This is all very very real now, even if it still feels surreal! The lady who showed us the rooms asked me if I had a birth plan, to which I just responded “Umm… delivering the baby here?” Should I be writing one of these? Yes I want to breastfeed so I suppose I need to write that down so people know. At the same time I am hoping I am going to be fully conscious so I can voice all of this myself, and I also don’t want to set a rigid plan that probably isn’t going to work out anyway. I want to be flexible and make sure that whatever happens is the best for me and the baby. 

Ah, before I forget, as a gift to ourselves (amidst all of the stress of finding an apartment and really not having any money to spare) we booked a 3D ultrasound in a place in Midtown. It really wasn’t too expensive, especially seeing as my Medicaid is covering for everything else and this really was a little extra, just because I wanted to see Munchie again… We went to Goldenview Ultrasound and booked the Silver package. It was a really lovely experience, although I would only recommend it to women whose placenta is not anterior – it’s much harder to get a clear picture of your baby if they are hiding behind the placenta all of the time! The technician was lovely and tried all sorts of techniques to get Munchie to move away from the placenta, which she was cuddling like a teddy bear, as well as take her hands away from her eyes. She finally moved in the end and we got to see her lovely little face, her chubby cheeks, her little hands and her big feet! I do have to say though, that seeing your baby that way is a little creepy and they look a little deformed. It’s a little scary and quite wonderful at the same time!!


I do have to apologise… Over the past few months I have pretty much only posted about being pregnant and having a baby. I have just been so consumed by all of this, as well as trying to work as much as possible and relax when I can that my writing has totally fallen by the wayside (which is also the most common excuse I always have whenever I start slacking in writing). It will get better… Once I have a little more time. But will I have more time?! Maybe I will be able to get a few sentences in here and there between baby feedings? Maybe I will be so overwhelmed by motherhood that all I will be able to write about is how much I love my daughter? (I kind of already know that is going to happen). We will see. In any case, there are still many stories and reviews and essays to come out of me, enough ideas for more than a lifetime of writing. In the meantime I am just going to keep them as ideas and hope to bring them to fruition in the near future. The first plan must be moving my blog over to my own domain and finding a template that suits me. Decisions, decisions…

In any case, despite the next impending snowstorm and despite the fact that I really wish I didn’t have to work for these next couple of months, I am still so happy. I feel like there is so much happiness that is still inside of me, waiting to get out and I can’t wait to share it with everyone. Well everyone who deserves it anyway ;)

Ramblings: The End of the Second Trimester




It still feels like a dream. Even now, while I am heading into my 27th week, and starting to feel those little kicks on a regular basis. It still feels like a dream, an amazing, wonderful dream; a dream that I am going to be a mother in just a few more months. That we have created this little girl who is growing inside of me and who I am going to love and be responsible for for the rest of my life and beyond that. How incredible is all of this? And yes, I know that millions and millions of women have done the same thing since the beginning of time, but it’s all such a new and wonderful feeling that I can’t get enough of it. Every day I wake up knowing that I am carrying the being that I will love more than anything I have ever loved in my life, and that I am responsible for bringing her into this world and making sure she is as healthy and happy as possible. Everything else seems just so ephemeral, but this is real, however much it may feel like a dream.

I feel like I am lucky as I am having a relatively good pregnancy – although I don’t really have anything to compare it to, so I am just assuming that it is. I’m still working 55-60 hours a week, maybe a little bit slower and clumsier than before, but I’m still able to do it. Yes, I get aching feet and my ankles sometimes double in size, but it’s nothing physically crippling. The back ache that I get on the cold days when I have been standing for too long is definitely annoying and the days when I get the indigestion/backache/feet ache/headache/tummy ache all combined together are the worst, but I’m mainly at the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life. That might come from the fact that for the past 6 months I have been thinking that one glass of water is the equivalent of a pint of water and I have been trying to down 8 of them a day. I only learnt last week that one glass is the equivalent of 8 fl oz, and therefore half of a small bottle of water. Not feeling as much of a water drinking failure anymore!

I think for me the worst symptom of all is one that I just cannot manage, and one that I have had from the moment I got pregnant: the tears. I literally can cry at the drop of the hat and there is no stopping it whatsoever. Something makes me angry: I burst into tears. Something makes me sad: I burst into tears. Something makes me happy: I burst into tears. That cute little doggie that needs a home? I cry. Don’t even get me started on reports of starving children, bombs and civil wars… I don’t mind crying, it’s a good release and it helps get rid of some pent up emotions. But it’s really, really annoying when you are trying to manage a restaurant and the basement starts leaking at 2am when you are about to go home and instead of formulating a plan of action to make sure it doesn’t flood the basement all you can do is burst into tears. Or when someone annoys you and you try to explain to them in a decent manner why they are wrong, but all you can do is lock yourself in the bathroom and hope that ice cold water will make the redness in your eyes disappear so that you don’t appear to be some kind of pregnant maniac who can’t keep her emotions at bay.

Or you just go with it and just hope that being pregnant will give you some kind of VIP pass to be able to cry in public without anyone batting an eyelid. I mean there are much worse things that I could do in public in my condition apparently, things that I may experience once the baby is bigger and heavier…

Talking about being big… One thing that has been bothering me is the weight gain. Actually lets reword that, the weight gain itself isn’t really bothering me at all, it’s on par with the course and I expected it. It’s the talk about weight gain that bothers me.  I never expected to be one of those women who only gain a few pounds with a large tummy and stick-like limbs. I know what the other women in my family looked like pregnant, and I also know that they naturally went back to their pre-pregnancy weight afterwards. I also know that doctors recommend a weight gain of 25-35 pounds on average while pregnant. And I also know that they monitor your weight gain every time you go to the doctor and talk to you about it. Yes, I am eating more than I did before I was pregnant. But yes, I was on the low end of what is considered normal for my height and build. Yes, I am eating healthy, with some exceptions, but I naturally crave veggies and healthy carbs and protein. I do eat chocolate and crisps and cheese, but I don’t eat more than I did before I was pregnant. I don’t drink soda or anything other than water, tea and the occasional fruit juice. And no, I am not going to cut down! I’m enjoying food! Although nowadays I have to start eating smaller portions as I feel like my stomach is beginning to get slightly squished… Actually, as a piece of advice to anyone: don’t look at a picture of what your insides look like at the end of the second trimester… Who would have thought that your stomach would start getting squished into your lungs?! Then again where on earth did I think all my organs were going to go?! So yes, I have gained quite a bit of weight, and yes, I will be going over the high end of the recommended average. But I am still on the slim side… Apart from the belly which is growing very, very fast now.

This brings me to the next subject: people and their words. In normal circumstances one would never tell anyone else that they are “huge” or “enormous”, would they? So what makes it OK to tell a pregnant woman these things? Weight gain is always going to be a sensitive issue for women, so telling anyone, especially a pregnant woman who is probably hiding her feelings about her weight gain, that she is enormous, is never an acceptable thing to do! Just like the woman who asked me if I was having twins and if I was sure I wasn’t… Yes, lady, I am very sure I am having one child. Everyone is different, some people show fast, some don’t show for months, in the end the most important part is that we are healthy and doing our best to ensure that our babies are growing correctly and in a healthy manner. And yes, I am going to have fries with that because they are absolutely delicious and I don’t feel like restricting myself! I really hope that I was never one of those people who mentioned the words “huge” or “enormous” inadvertently to a pregnant woman in the past, because if I did I apologise profusely! 

I have a feeling that these next 3 months are going to fly by, as my movements get slower, time is just going to get faster. There is so much to prepare for, and so many things that I still need to learn and I know that there is not enough time left to do it all. That’s all right, I am sure that I will learn as I go, as will C. There is only so much you can prepare for, and the rest is just going to happen anyway. I’m so excited about it all (and I little scared too, I don’t think there is anything wrong with admitting that), and wondering if this will still feel like a dream when the belly gets even bigger and the kicks harder. Those little kicks are pretty amazing too, and I am so glad that I am feeling them all the time now – I was getting a little worried that I wasn’t feeling enough movement. All I needed was to voice my concerns to the doctor last week and little Munchie decided it was time to step up her movements in the womb. I guess it’s true what they say about the baby being able to hear now!


2014 is going to be such an amazing year.

Ramblings: The "Traditional Sense of Marriage"


Scrolling through my Facebook feed the other morning I randomly came across a Frank Bruni article in the New York Times posted by a friend. The article in question is about Liz Cheney’s views on gay marriage while her own sister is happily married to a woman, causing a rift within her own family. That people have these anti-gay marriage views and choose to go public about them is fine in my book. I do not agree with them in any way or form and am happy to discuss my own views in public, but we all are allowed the freedom of our own choices and views of the world, and of other people. It wasn’t really the whole “Liz Cheney is against gay marriage” part that struck me, I’m not really that surprised, although I don’t really know how one can go from completely accepting your gay sister’s marriage to another woman, to then rejecting it in the name of politics. No, it was more the phrase “the traditional sense of marriage” that stuck with me.

My mind started reeling as it often does when faced with a question: what on earth is the “traditional sense of marriage” nowadays? I suppose it is meant to mean the union of a man and a woman with a following of children… Which I do suppose traditionally was what marriage meant in the eyes of a god of some sort. I don’t want so specify which religion and which god, because that will lead to a whole other discussion. So yes, the union of man and woman together til death do they part. The problem is how far back in time can we go to find this “traditional sense of marriage”? Back in the late 19th century, early 20th century, before women started fighting for the right to vote? Before the 1940’s when women started doing jobs that previously were reserved for men, and at the same time started wearing trousers en masse (oh the horror!)? Maybe that doesn’t count, because women were only doing those jobs because the men were overseas trying to save us all from the Nazis and the Japanese. Maybe the image that we get of the 50’s, before the feminist movement started back up again in full force, woman at home cooking and cleaning, father at work? 

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against marriage at all, nor anything against a family where the man works and the woman stays at home. I’m just trying to find a marker of what this “traditional sense of marriage” actually is. Because even within this “tradition” of man marrying woman there are so many levels of dysfunction/difference/anti-tradition that I don’t know where to start. Let’s start with divorce. If the “traditional sense of marriage” is based on man marrying woman “until death do us part” then technically divorcing and remarrying goes against any type of tradition. And therefore marrying again, even if it is still man marrying woman, is not a marriage in the traditional sense. Right?

If you think that the “traditional sense of marriage” can only be between a woman and a man because only a woman and a man can conceive together, then what about all of the married men and women who cannot conceive, due to infertility or other issues? What if they use infertility treatment, adopt or use surrogates? Sperm banks? Yet again, absolutely nothing wrong with this, but in the end, does this not defy any type of “traditionalist” views? If a man and a woman want a child so much that they will go to great lengths to have their own, what is wrong with two men or two women doing the same? Isn’t the whole point of marriage being a union between two people who love each other, and the whole point of having a child being a “product” of that union of love, a being that the married couple will raise as best they can, bringing into the world a little human that contains part of each of them. And that goes to adopted children too – by loving and teaching and being with a child you give them part of yourself that they will cherish forever.

It just gets more and more complicated. I certainly did not grow up in an environment where the traditional sense of marriage was observed (although my parents were married when I was conceived). I always wondered what it would be like to grow up in a family that I saw as “traditional”, and it always surprised me when I had friends who had a father and a mother and lived in a home where the mother didn’t work and the father did. This isn’t a bad thing at all – I cherish my upbringing and feel that it made me into who I am. And my friends who had more “traditional” upbringings loved to listen to my stories and were often jealous of the different experiences I had. In the end “traditional” or “non-traditional” we were all loved and cared for and given the best chances our parents could offer, despite any set-backs they may have encountered. Rather that than being part of those horror stories of neglect and abuse that we hear way too much of in the news.

I’m also not in a traditional relationship, even if I am a woman and my partner is a man. Sometimes we have to struggle with a past relationship still being present, and I would maybe like to get married later on, but this is not stopping us bringing a child into the world, and giving that child the best life that we will be able to provide for her. Because we love each other, and I think this transcends any type of wedding license. In my opinion that is. I don’t need to marry my partner, but I am happy that I have the choice to. If I loved a woman I would feel exactly the same way. Love itself doesn’t set standards or boundaries, does it? So why should we set them? When two people feel the same way about each other, why restrict them on their option to marry if they really want to? In this day and age what is still making people that love between two people of the same sex is wrong? 

Back to my main question… What on earth is this “traditional sense of marriage” today? I keep racking my brain and it just brings up more questions. Instead of preaching about how things should stay “traditional”, maybe we should start advocating change and showing the next few generations that it’s ok to be brought up in different environments with parents that may differ from the norm that was dictated to us last century. Let’s stop making children they are different because they their parents aren’t the same as other children’s parents. There is way too much hate in this world as it is, let’s stop creating it needlessly.


Ramblings: The Importance of Writing a Journal



You could ask yourself the question of whether it really is that important to write a journal. Especially nowadays when you can keep an ongoing collection of words and images and videos of your everyday life via social media sources such as Facebook, Instagram, Vine and other. If writing a journal is just tantamount to keeping track of what happened to you on a weekly or daily basis, then I suppose it isn’t that necessary, or important, not with all the other mediums we now have at our fingertips. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, mainly after reading the new Bridget Jones installment (Mad About the Boy – and yes, Helen Fielding hasn’t lost any of her talent or wit… I laughed and cried loudly all the way through it); and then randomly watching a movie called Stuck In Love, where a writer father makes his two kids write in their journals on a regular basis, as a way to train them to record their experiences and to be passionate about writing, just as he is. Both very different forms of journal writing (daily updates on the mundane activities of life with the occasional spurt of change, seemingly boring in theory but actually incredibly heartwarming and endearing; a collection of experiences, thoughts, poems and drawings created from a happening, a word, an encounter or just a thought in a day), but both technically a way to collect the threads of a life in writing. 

And in the end a journal is private, not meant to be shared with anyone. Which makes it still very important in my mind and heart – there are so many things that I want to express, but that I don’t want to post on Facebook, or even on my blog for that matter. 

All of this got me thinking about my own journal writing. However inconsistent in quantity my own writing has been over the years, I have always kept some type of journal, since the age of 10 when I was given my first diary as a Christmas present. I still have every journal that I have kept over the years. Sometimes a book full of the day to day activities at school and the boys I was in love with, sometimes a tremendously deep and sad recount of feelings and pain, sometimes an image of happiness, surrounded by pictures and clippings from newspapers or others. Here and there a poem, written on the spur of the moment and recorded that day, to be rediscovered years later and added to a collection of poems that I am trying to put together. I started to reprimand myself the other day for not keeping a “proper” journal anymore, when I realised that that is not true – I actually have several. They are just not the “traditional” forms of journals that I kept all these years. One is more of a “picture” journal, where you can find photos, magazine clippings, words, photos, random song lyrics, thoughts, movie stubs, concert tickets, post cards… The other is a collection of essays and short stories that I have been adding to a folder amidst other folders on my laptop for the past couple of years, all stories involving places and people in my life, all essays reciting certain experiences that I felt the need to record, all with the idea of publishing together one day. Now I realize that I don’t think I could ever publish these essays as they are, not right now anyway, as they are so very personal and don’t just involve myself, but other people who are very much real and alive. Therefore this is just my way of continuing to create a journal.
I don’t know why I do. It’s not like I want anyone to read all of these journals. Not while I am still on this earth anyway! It’s not like they contain my best writing either (although I sometimes do feel surprised when I come across something I wrote at the age of 16 when I was so unsure of myself and of my writing, and wonder why I felt that way because I had a way with words then). Even when I am at my least inspired I have always been able to write in my journal and I also think that this was (and still is) my only way to really describe how I feel and say what I really want to say in words. An outlet for emotions that are often kept pent up inside. A musician will release these emotions in song; I do it in words on paper, and on screen, the only difference being that I don’t want them to be seen. But would it be that bad if they were seen? Music has always helped me in good times and bad times and very, very bad times, so maybe my words could help another soul? I know words have always helped me too, be they in fiction, non-fiction, newspaper articles that hit home, song lyrics, poems… Even other people’s journal entries.  That said, I have never read anyone else’s personal diary (I am a huge stickler for privacy and would be the last person to go through anyone’s phone, journal, email, personal items, even if I feared the worst). I have only read published journals. From the darkest thoughts flowing from Sylvia Plath’s mind through her pen; a young teenager’s recount of being persecuted by the Nazis through Anne Frank’s eyes; trying to understand Kurt Cobain’s pain through his journal excerpts; to the fictional diaries of Adrian Mole that kept me laughing all the way through adolescence into adulthood (and still today). These journals (as well as others that I haven’t mentioned) are works of fiction in their own right, tales of moments in time that we may also have lived, or may be able to learn from, or just provide us with a historical reference to a time gone by, coloured with personal experience and thoughts.

Some of my favourite writers, Gerard de Nerval and Sylvia Plath for example, wrote their stories based on completely personal experiences. I find that I do this a lot too – although not all of the time, some of my stories are completely made up in my head, ideas conjured up by part of a conversation heard on the subway, or the sight of someone who grabs my attention on the street. Other stories are completely autobiographical and you just have to change the characters’ names to know who I am writing about, or what time in my life I am referring to.  I’m sure I have many, many more stories I could pull from my journals, stories that will finally help me finish this novel I have been working on, on and off, for the past three years. Or maybe they are all best staying right where they are, ink on paper, for my child to read when he or she is old enough to read my deepest secrets (if there is ever an age for that!). All in all, maintaining a journal has always been something that I cherish, and I will probably continue to do so until I die, in whatever format I feel like. I do miss writing, fountain pen and lined paper, but I always find nowadays that I start writing and finish by typing on my laptop and end up with random notebooks full of half-written essays and stories, as well as notes for blog posts and lists of photo numbers that I want to add to collections on Flickr. 

I just want to make sure I record everything I can… Not for anyone else, but just for myself. So that I can go back to my journals years later and remind myself that I have or haven’t changed. And just for that I think that it is incredibly important to maintain a journal – for oneself. A photo album in words.

Ramblings: Spiritualized again...

I should have finished this well over a month ago, but as usual, I started something with the aim to finish it “at some point”. Thankfully it’s not a review of the show that took place on September 10th at Webster Hall, just some ramblings about sharing music with my unborn baby…


Everything I do nowadays has a “We” to it as opposed to just an “I”. For example, I am not just hungry (make that absolutely starving as if I may collapse hungry) in the morning when I wake up; no “We” are hungry and “We” must eat right away. Little Munchie has taken over my life in the most magical of ways and I will never again see myself as a person alone in the world. It’s amazing. Anyway, the point of all this is that I am now sharing absolutely everything in my life with my unborn child, one of the most obvious things being my love for music. I haven’t been to anywhere near as many shows as I would like this year, but that didn’t stop me from looking forward to seeing Spiritualized when one of my dearest friends bought us tickets as soon as they went on sale this year. I didn’t know I was pregnant then, but I did before we went and it felt so good to think that my child was going to witness the live performance of one of my favourite bands before he or she was even born. 

There are some bands or musicians with whom you have a really intense relationship, one that holds you so hard that sometimes you need to take a step back to reevaluate, just to come back loving them even more. That’s my relationship with Spiritualized. I have seen them many a time over the years, at different venues in NYC, been around them with friends in different locations in the city, and have never ceased to be entranced during each performance, tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. There are some bands and musicians you go to see just for the live music, others you prefer to stay away from as they are just better recorded. And then there are those bands that you want all of: recorded, live, live recordings, conversations, everything. That special music that you will never tire of, will bore your children to death with until they, at a certain age, will appreciate your love for them and may even start to love them too. I have a list of bands and musicians that little Munchie is going to have to listen to over and over again and will probably hate for some years (some on this list are actually musicians that my mother had me listen to before I was even born, so I am just continuing a trend over the generations). In any case, Spiritualized is on this list and I am so happy that I was able to experience one of their performances with my unborn child.

"If you feel lonely and the worlds against you, take the long way home, past the scary jesus, and you'll find my door with your name in diamonds, and you'll feel lonely no more" - So Long You Pretty Things  

A list of random Spiritualized-related memories in no special order (just the order in which they come to mind when I am thinking about the band or listening to the music in some form or another): dancing round and round to Come Together with Hannah at Terminal 5 back in 2009; running late to the show at Radio City Music Hall with Meg but not missing anything due to the disco ball falling from the ceiling a few minutes before the band came on stage (and therefore being yet another narrow escape for Jason Pierce); listening to Death Take Your Fiddle with Meg on repeat for days before marching (stumbling?) off to Darkroom for another night of the same non-adventures; playing Broken Heart on repeat for days and days on end to constantly remind myself that my broken heart wasn’t the only one in the world; receiving a signed copy of Sweet Heart Sweet Light in the post out of the blue from a friend in England; the way hearing Stop Your Crying will always bring tears to my eyes, every single time; reconnecting with old and special friends I haven’t seen in a while at a show, and not feeling like anything had really changed over the months of not speaking to each other; dancing with my now-deceased and very, very special cat Luna to Ladies and Gentlemen in its entirety the moment work got too stressful… Music, friendship, memories, connections, love, anger, happiness and pain. Spiritualized embodies all of that and more for me.

Other bands/musicians on this list are of course The Cure, Marianne Faithfull, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Stevie Nicks, Tim Buckley, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Nirvana, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, PJ Harvey… And so on…

Ramblings: There is no I in Me anymore...

By the time you are reading this you probably already know (if you are very, very close to me), have an inkling something has changed, or really just don’t know and are going to be super surprised. In any case, it’s all been a little surreal for myself over the past nine weeks… Yup. There is no I in Me anymore, there is an Us. Me and It, It being a little munchkin that is eventually going to grow into a He or a She and eventually be born in late March/early April of next year.

Everything seems surreal and exciting and scary at the same time. There was that moment I had that dream where I took a home pregnancy test and the test appeared to be positive with a due date marked in the screen… Which lead me to run out to Walgreens as soon as I woke up in the morning to buy a real one, and then sat around staring at the packet for hours until I finally dared to do it. The two lines appeared almost automatically, and at that moment I decided there was no way I was going to be able to keep a child and I needed whatever it was inside of me removed as soon as possible. Needless to say, by the next morning , on my way to Planned Parenthood for a “proper” test, I had already changed my mind dramatically and was hoping that the home test wasn’t a fake positive… I mean I knew it wasn’t. I already knew I was pregnant, there are certain signs that you can’t ignore. And yes, it was positive.

That Friday I went around in a haze, lying on the grass in the middle of Washington Square Park, trying to fathom the idea of having a child, and then raising said child. I stopped smoking and drinking that very day, and surprisingly enough it was easy. I mean REALLY easy. No nicotine withdrawal, no crankiness, no nothing. Just the knowledge that there was a little me growing right inside of me. For the next 10 days it still didn’t feel real. I told a few people close to me, but that was it, my little munchkin was going to remain a secret until I was ready for the world to know about it. 

I don’t have health insurance. That was my main concern about actually having a child. Planned Parenthood lost all funding to provide prenatal care, so they just gave me a number for a low-cost women’s health clinic in Brooklyn, and I was able to get an appointment for 10 days after I found out I was pregnant. In the meantime I found out I was eligible for Medicaid, so I started working on all the paperwork I needed for that. In the end, the clinic filed for me (they are amazing – and there I was worried that I would have to pay for everything by myself!). I had blood work done, and exams, and went over all different kinds of things with the technician and the nurse and the midwife, and then finally got a referral appointment for an ultrasound at the Brooklyn Hospital for the following week. I am really happy with the people who are following my pregnancy – they made me feel comfortable and a lot less nervous than I was before I got there. 

Unless you have already been through this yourself, you can only imagine what it feels like to see your baby inside of you and then to hear the heartbeat… It’s mind-blowing. That little blob on the screen, the actual size of a bean which is beginning to form into a person is actually part of you and created by you. And that heart beating… Honestly it was only then that it fully became real to me – I now have two hearts beating in my body, and one of them needs to be protected and nurtured and loved at all costs. Every day I wake up and (after the immediate feelings of absolute hunger and thirst, followed by a wave of nausea) I feel blessed that this is happening to me. I remember my 17 year old self writing in my diary and telling my best friends that I wanted a child by the age of 19, and that I would call her Luna. Instead I got a cat and called her Luna, and as the years went by started to wonder if I would ever have a child. Growing up with an amazing mother but with a father figure who disappeared too early and another who wasn’t around for too much longer I always promised myself I wouldn’t have a child unless I was completely sure the child would have parents who would stay together forever. Well, unless you remain a complete and hopeless romantic with no shred of cynicism in your bones all of your adult life you will certainly realize that this was quite a tall order. And a straight shot to never having children. And I have to say that at the beginning of this year I was really starting to think that maybe I wouldn’t have kids, and that, in a way, that was allright (as long as my siblings were going to have them). I could just live in New York City for the rest of my life and live like I have enjoyed living for the past 8 years…

And when have I ever done anything conventionally anyway?! Every time I try to I fail, so I gave up on trying a few years ago and started living life in the way I wanted to. I have never been happier, or more comfortable in my own skin, and everything is just another adventure to embark on… This one probably being the most amazing adventure I will ever jump into head first. And don’t get me wrong, little munchkin’s father is more than present, and won’t be going anywhere (unless I decide to move, because then he will be moving with me, and munchkin). Which brings up the idea of moving… For some silly reason being pregnant kind of changes your perspective on everything. I mean everything. Obviously the idea of moving away from NYC has come to me over the past eight and a half years, but I’ve never actually really acted upon it. But now I just want to move to California, be nearer my family over there and actually be able to live in a house with a back yard where I can grow my own food, not feel like I am constantly hustling to make ends meet like I do here. I will always love New York, but I don’t know if I really want to bring up a child here. I’m most certainly going to have the baby here, but after that, who knows? Within the next 18 months I am pretty sure that I will be making a move over to California. It’s always been my dream to live in Santa Cruz, but I think I will probably have to start in Sacramento and then see where life leads me. 

But all of that is not for a while yet… In the meantime I am going to enjoy the amazingness that being pregnant is (especially now that the uncomfortable first trimester is over), and be happy.

Ramblings & Photography: A Long Beach Walk




The equivalent of a 79 block walk on the beach, from Rockaway Park right down to 37th street, started off as a day taking photos and catching up with a friend who had never been to the Rockaways before, and turned into a day full of adventures. It’s amazing what the imagination can do… Shipwrecks! Secret treasure troves hidden under the sand! Volcanoes! The remains of witchcraft rituals in the sand!


It all started right between 116th and 90th streets, in the sand, while contemplating the vast variety of odd jellyfish that had washed up onto the shore, what appeared to be a tugboat seemed to be heading directly for the shore, the closer it got, the more worried I was that it was going to be beached in the sand, unable to move again. That is, until it dawned on me that the boat wanted to be shipwrecked on the shore! It had been stuck on a remote island for years and was so excited to see civilization that it was heading directly towards us, and the Caterpillar diggers working on the beach to fix the pipelines damaged by the previous hurricane. Land at last! However, I don’t think that the version of civilization that the captain was approaching enchanted him that much, because he turned around after a while and disappeared back to where he came from… 


A little bit further along I nearly tripped over a piece of rusty metal wiring that was slightly sticking out of the ground. The low tide had revealed the hiding place of what could be an ancient treasure trove, locked way down under the sand, the evidence that it was there soon to be erased by the incoming tide. I wonder if this is what the captain of the tugboat had come back for, and realizing that there were too many people to witness his arrival, turned back, to come back at a later date, maybe during the winter months when the beach is deserted apart from the random person playing with their metal detector? He could anchor the boat of shore and swim inland with divers, dig out the treasure and take it back to the deserted island without anyone seeing him!


After nearly being decapitated by fishing lines pulled taut along the sand we bumped into a shaman, seemingly dropped from the sky right in front of us. A parrot on his green hair, followed by a green and pink poodle, walking towards the water, smiling at us, waiting for us to talk to him. I imagine him walking on the water, connecting with nature and the sparkling sunlight on the waves, collecting more pets and followers along the way. I wish I had managed to capture his essence on camera but I was a little nervous about his reaction. What if he decided to send his parrot to take my eyes out? He didn’t seem completely benevolent to be honest.


Walking on, we managed to avoid any more appearances for a while, until we came across what seemed to be an abandoned film set on part of the boardwalk that was still intact (all along the way parts of the boardwalk have disappeared and have not been fixed yet). We rushed over to it and found that it had actually not been abandoned, but was guarded by strange individuals who let us take photos but wouldn’t let us touch anything. We were taken back to the Prohibition era that Boardwalk Empire is set in, surrounded by billboards for Atlantic City, and an inhabited house in the sand that obviously used to be grass and road until the storm surge brought the sand inland… After removing ourselves from the 1920’s we pushed through heavy dunes of drift sand and found evidence of witchcraft rituals held in the sand at some point not so long ago. There is nothing better than a remote beach surrounded by dunes for a nighttime ritual, is there?
And then for the last discovery, before making our way back to the reality of the A train: volcanic rock hidden in the sand! The glitter of the rock in the sun, half covered by the sand, lead to a larger piece of rock, maybe the last remainder of what used to be a volcano, thousands and thousands of years ago, before the world was what we see it as today. A little reminder of what and where we come from…


All in all, the walk is really worth it, especially on a beautiful day in September, just before it really gets cold. There is so much to discover and see along the shoreline, and so much to imagine…
For the full set of photos taken please see below or HERE 


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Rockaways Sept 2013, a set on Flickr.

Ramblings: The beach in September


I love the beach in September. Just after Labour Day the beaches are much quieter, and there is more room to spread out and enjoy the sound of the waves breaking on the shore (as opposed to people shouting and blasting music from every side). September has always been my favourite month in NYC (even though it signifies the end of summer and the beginning of autumn which is always followed on by cold, cold winters…): the air is cleaner and les muggy, the sun is still shining and warm and the nights are cooler. There really is nothing like walking barefoot in the warm sand, relaxing right by the water and soaking up the sun, never knowing if this will be the last time you will make it to the beach before the cold sets in.


The Rockaways have always been my favourite part of NYC. I’ve written many times about my trips to the beach, to Rockaway Park or Fort Tilden (when you could still go there before Sandy). A 45 minute subway ride from my home in Bushwick finds you in the middle of a lovely beach community, with miles of beaches to choose from, a perfect place to get away from the oppressiveness of the city and the humidity that coats everything through-out the summer. There have been years when I have spent at least a day per week on the beach, and then other years when I have struggled to make it out there more than a couple of times a month. I have to say that I have done better this year than I did last year, and mainly because I felt the need to support the place that I love so much after all of the devastation that happened there during Sandy. The first time I walked down the street towards the beach the boarded up places (especially the Sand Bar, a regular stop-off place for my friends and I), made me sad, although the fact that so many businesses were back open and ready for customers surprised me and made me realize how hard people had worked to go on with life even after part of it was destroyed. The beaches themselves were completely different. Smaller, with only partial boardwalks, the rest swept away during the hurricane. Fort Tilden closed for the foreseeable future, but beaches that were still accessible, comfortable with all of the amenities that one would need. I’ve always preferred the Rockaways to Coney Island – it’s more laid-back and less noisy (and there is always Pickles and Pies deli where you can buy sandwiches and fruit, not just places where you can only get fried food like hot dogs and fries). Coney is fun, but the Rockaways are my real place to go to, to relax and swim and be in the sun. 



I realised this week, listening to the Psychedelic Furs and contemplating the future while lying in the sun on Beach 106, that this is probably my last summer in NYC and that my future visits to the Rockaways may just be that – visits. There are oceans and beaches all over the world but this one will always have a very, very special place in my heart. Today some of the beaches are “closed” (although if you listen to the construction workers they will just tell you to walk over the dune and hang out on the beach – that no one is going to stop you from going there), but only because there is still so much work to be done to clean up after Sandy. I just worry that we will get hit by another super storm again this year… Or next year. Hopefully the work done will help avoid the extent of the damage that we all suffered last year. Right now a huge man-made dune has appeared all the way down the beaches, exposing a large pipeline (carrying water?), and the beach is even smaller, especially at high tide. But the same feeling is still there, it will always be the same place, no matter what the natural and man-made changes are… And it will always be a place that represents freedom, happiness and beauty in my heart. Hopefully I will still make it out there a few more times until the end of the month as I still want to finish a photography project I started using film earlier on during the summer. Fingers crossed that the weather will hold out until October.