Between the endless (or what seems to be that way) snowstorms and icy winter days and nights we managed to move a lot of our belongings from the old apartment on Troutman St in Brookyn to the new place in Flushing at the beginning of February. Our moving truck man got stuck in the slushy snow pile outside the building, and tried to put Joey Ramone the howling cat in the back with the furniture, but we managed to make it to our new home without breakages or damages. And what a home! It's big, airy, bright and so quiet. I slept so well the first night and woke up to the sounds of birds singing, not to the sounds of the endless construction on the streets of Bushwick. There were still quite a few of my belongings left in the old place, but my mum and wonderful best friend went to pick it all up for me last week so I didn't have to deal with it. I just don't know if I could have faced any more moving at that point.
Setting up home has been so much fun, apart from the fact that every time we save some money, we end up spending on very important things... Necessary things of course, but the money part is beginning to worry me, as we have 4 weeks left until the baby gets here... I know deep down everything will be fine, but I am taking 2 months off, and am not used to not making my own money and not being financially independent! All for a very, very good cause though, as I will be busy looking after our little Munchie and giving her the best start in life that we can give her. Buying a new couch was the most fun part, turning up at Bob's Furniture and walking around trying all types of different couches, and looking at sectionals as we have the space for one. We ended up going for a lovely coffee coloured one with large pillows and enough room for us to both lie down on it and watch TV on our brand new 42 inch HDTV... Which we ended up getting at a super discount price because someone had messed up on the pricing at Best Buy... There are still boxes and boxes that need to be emptied or put away, but there is no real rush with this. I've been doing one or two a night, and trying to imagine how I would like our home to look like when it is all done. I feel like we are finally really making a home for our family, a place that is ours and no one else's!
I'm still working 40 hours a week, and C. is still at his 60 plus hours, and it's been a little strange for us both as I am now working day times and he is still working the usual night time hours. We are going to have to make real efforts to spend enough time together on this schedule as I spent a lot of the first week feeling a bit thrown off and missing him, even though we live together and work on the same premises. I know he did too. Thankfully we both have Wednesdays off together still and these have become even more important than before. We have been trying to explore our new neighbourhood (we already have found "our" deli and "our" diner), looking for places to eat and shop and hang out. It's been a little difficult with the weather that has limited my movements a lot (on top of the fact that I get tired fast when I am walking now, as Munchie is really growing fast). I love how multicultural the neighbourhood is, how there is a church that has service in 5 different languages on Sundays, that it feels like it's still NYC, but a little quieter and more relaxed than where I lived in Brooklyn before. Then again, I wasn't too happy when I had to get the shuttle bus instead of the subway last week and people kept pushing me, despite the fact that I have a very obvious baby bump. I'm sorry to anyone who got my elbow in their face, but being pushed and squashed makes me do those type of things!
I don't really want to get started on the whole getting up and giving your seat to a disabled, elderly or pregnant person on the subway, but I do want to mention it. I was brought up in countries where this was a normal thing to do. You don't look up, look at a person and look down again, without getting up from your seat. Yes, maybe I chose to be pregnant and ride the subway, but standing up for long periods of time in a crowded subway at this point in my pregnancy actually makes me feel light-headed and faint, and easily able to lose my balance. In any case, it's always other women who give me their seat, never has a man offered his seat, not even when I am standing right above them. I'm not the type to ask for a seat, nor am I going to glare at you angrily to make you feel bad, but people need to be a little more aware. It's quite sad really! The best moment for me was the time I asked a woman to move her bag so I could sit down and was looked at as if I were some kind of cockroach trying to crawl into her personal space. Of course I didn't feel bad ha!
Kings' Carriage House where people I love joined me to celebrate the impending arrival of my little girl. Everyone has been so generous and it is really helping us get ready for having a baby in our home. I have the best people in my life, and I hope I am the same type of friend to them as they are to me. Mum took some wonderful photos of the afternoon that display how lovely (and pink) it really was. You can see them HERE
So this is it really... Four weeks left (give or take a few depending on when she decides its time to come out), and I am hovering between stages of feeling elated and intensely nervous. Not about the actual birth which still feels like something surreal that is going to happen but that I have no idea how, but more about afterwards. Am I going to be able to breastfeed easily? Is everything going to be OK? Will I be a good mother?!? Will my baby be happy and healthy?
In the meantime I shall continue to feel content and to breathe through all the mini moments of panic, and just know that everything WILL be OK. Both C and I are happy and healthy and are prepared to do anything to make sure our child is happy and healthy too. And I really really really can't wait to finally meet her outside of the womb, and talk to her little face and tell her how she spent the last month inside me kicking my ribs and making me laugh.
This continues to be the most amazing journey of my life.
For more of my mother, Alison Toon's photos from her recent stay here and more check out her website here: Alison Toon
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…
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…
I’ve lived here nearly 9 years now and the am convinced that the single most stressful part of NYC living is finding an apartment to live in. Finding a place to live, a place to call home. When I first moved here I lived in a small one bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side (corner of Rivington and Clinton to be more exact) for a month, courtesy of the company I worked for, so that I had time to find my own place. Yes, I thought that was small at the time. I loved the neighbourhood the moment I set foot in it, and spent the first few weeks walking around at all times of the day and night, grabbing a drink at random bars, observing people, buying Pringles at 24 hour delis at 4am, watching the people walk by from the apartment’s fire escape and writing poems up there. From the moment I started looking for a place to live I knew that the neighbourhood was completely out of my price range, especially after I had decided that for the first time in my life I wanted to live alone, without roommates…
And so now it is time to move again. For multiple reasons, most importantly because I am having a baby in April, because I want to move in with my boyfriend in OUR own home, and because I want to pay less rent. Over the years my credit has gone from being nil to passable to completely crap, and C. has no credit at all, not making it any easier to secure a place. On top of that our lease runs out on February 28th, and I don’t want to have to move when I am ready to give birth. The stress of finding an apartment in this city makes me want to cry on a good day – imagine being 7 months pregnant and traipsing the streets looking for a place that will take you without credit and that is actually affordable… We had already decided that Queens was where we were heading this time, with rents that are still affordable and places that were still of a decent size. I walked out of the first agency in tears because the woman told me she couldn’t help us as we didn’t have good credit. Didn’t even try. So we started grabbing numbers from leaflets on lamp posts on Roosevelt Avenue, and ended up meeting some type of broker guys in the back room of an Internet café (yes sketchy it was). They took us to a few places, one being a large one bedroom apartment in Flushing. Yes, large. And quiet. And on the ground floor. And airy. And light. And large. Did I already mention large? Oh, and with a rent of $1275 a month.
All images © Jade Anna Hughes
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?
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…
I love summer in New York. Especially those days when it's in the 80's and there is a slight breeze in the air. I also love taking photos in the city, and today I decided to go to Roosevelt Island and walk around, especially after I found out that there is a pretty cool ruin of an old smallpox hospital in the park (while randomly searching for abandoned mental asylums on the web the other day). I've only been to Roosevelt Island once in the 8+ years that I have lived in this city, and that was a couple of years ago when I ran a 5k charity run to raise money for women in the Congo. Needless to say, I didn't do any running today, but I did walk around a lot of the island.
Located in the East River, between Manhattan and Queens, the views are pretty amazing, especially of Manhattan. I could totally imagine myself living there - it's easily accessible via the F train or the cable car/tram thing, and it's so quiet! Not many cars around, a few buses, and mainly apartment buildings and hospitals. And a beautiful park - although for some reason the new FDR Four Freedoms Park is closed on Tuesdays. Luckily I could still access the area of the park where the Renwick Smallpox Hospital ruin is located though. I wish you could actually walk around the ruins, but apparently the building is unsafe (or they are just safeguarding it from graffiti and vandalism, who knows). Everywhere is so clean on the island - I even found myself holding my cigarette butts until I found a trash can, as I didn't want to just leave them on the ground... Makes a change from the streets of Bushwick or the LES...
It always makes me happy to still discover places that I haven't really been to, or captured with my camera. Full set of photos HERE.
Little India, Queens, a set on Flickr.
This week has been a mix of really good days and really bad days. Today was one of the latter, with an early start over to Jackson Heights where there is a small Indian community. I love it there, but don't make it out there often enough. The colours, the smells and the sounds, bring me right back to the time I spent in India. I love that country so much and can't wait to go back again.
I spent the morning walking around with my friend Holly, taking photos, enjoying some excellent conversation with sweets and chai.
I know I have been on a black and white kick these past few months, but this was definitely a day for colour, as there was so much of it. If one day I were to leave Bushwick I would maybe consider moving to this neighbourhood.
The only thing missing were tubs of grains to stick my hands in... Oh and maybe a delicious samosa. Maybe next time. I am considering buying the green tunic one day though, it was seriously gorgeous.
Bushwick To Ridgewood, a set on Flickr.
It was a beautiful, warm day today, and there was no way I could sleep through it, even if I didn't get to sleep until 5am last night. I had a few errands to run so I took my camera out and took photos all along Myrtle Avenue, going through Bushwick to Ridgewood, where the nearest branch of my bank is. Today was a colour day, I needed to capture the colours of the murals, the shop awnings, the gaudiness of the Christmas decorations and the skyline.
This is my neighbourhood... I love it. I feel at home here, and always have done, ever since I moved here from Manhattan over 4 years ago...
From the trash on the street to the Wanted posters on the signposts to the street art to the colourful cheap shops to the crazy traffic to the mix of Dominican/Puerto Rican/Mexican/Indian/Polish/Ukranian food, to the elevated subways and the gorgeous skylines, I love this place.
Seagulls and Pelicans on a roof along the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.
Miriam and George, filming Emilie's part in the first scene.
Michelle sitting outside of our Fort Tilden camp in July.
Written on a mural on Jefferson St, Bushwick.
More HERE on my Flickr.