the unintended stalking of Hamish and Andy

This past weekend we headed out to McCarren Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a spot of pumpkin picking. As per usual with the subway on the weekend in New York, what should have been a 20ish to 30 minute ride at most turned into at least an hour and a half with walks in between changing to different stations, a stop in at Subway for a loo stop (between a 32 week pregnant woman and a 4 year old this was a necessary stop).

The best part of the adventure of getting out to McCarren Park was unwittingly locating Hamish’s apartment from the Aussie radio show Hamish and Andy. You see I have been listening to the self-proclaimed “The People’s” radio show via podcast in New Zealand and now in New York for the past 3 or 4 years at least. The comedic duo’s podcast has helped me through training for my first off road half marathon as well as my second half-marathon, and sleepless nights with a refluxy baby. The pair relocated to New York from Melbourne in June for a couple months as part of their Gap Year. Gap Year is a term mostly used downunder and in the UK, basically it’s a year’s break in your studies to travel. Neither Hamish nor Andy is a student, but their rational was that they were too busy starting into the radio biz to have a gap year, so why not do it now as they are creeping into their thirties. Oh and yeah, it’s really only a Gap Couple of Months as they finished their stint in New York at the beginning of October –  a mere 3 and a bit months after it started.

Anyways, back to the happy coincidence at hand. While trying to change to the L train at 8th Avenue the friendly MTA bods gave us a ticket to catch a bus all the way out to past where we were trying to get to so that we could then take another train back in. We decided walking to another station on 14th Street would at least make us feel as if we weren’t going in circles. The stretch of 14th street we were walking along had quite a few irish pubs including the one pictured below. I had just listened to H&A’s last broadcast from NY where Hamish mentions regret for not making Flannery’s his local even though he lived right underneath. Could I be standing right outside his apartment?

Preston flashbombing my picture of Flannery's Bar and the Donut Pub

Preston flashbombing my picture of Flannery's Bar and the Donut Pub

stumbling across 40 acres and Spike Lee

sunny day at Spike Lee's pop-up shop in Fort Greene, Brooklyn

sunny day at Spike Lee's pop-up shop in Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Our quest to find a new nabe for our permanent apartment led us to Brooklyn this weekend. We took the subway to Fort Greene, Brooklyn and stumbled across something out of a movie. Spike Lee had setup a one day pop-up shop of new and vintage swag from his 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks collection. Their were beautiful people lined up around the block to get into the sale and a DJ spinning classic tunes from A Tribe Called Quest.

The man himself was on-site signing autographs and swag, unfortunately I couldn’t get close enough for a pic of him, but this is a snap of what the organized mayhem look liked.

conversation with Dan Zanes

Dan Zanes at Barnes and Noble TriBeCa

Preston and I headed to Barnes and Nobles in TriBeCa for a launch event of Dan Zanes and Friends newest album Little Nut Tree. Preston has been a groover and a shaker from way back, so I thought this would definitely be a good event to go to. Plus, if by chance he wasn’t enjoying it, Barnes and Nobles are pretty big open space bookstores – always a good time.

Dan hit the stage with his guitar and a harmonica, from the moment he launched into his songs, he really seemed to be enjoying what he was doing. His music is an interesting eclectic mix of folk, beatnik jazzy tunes with inspirations from the islands (I don’t think my description does it justice!). What is really nice about his sound is that it appeals equally to adults as it does to the kiddlets.

Preston enjoyed the tunes, and was only a little disappointed that the Wiggles were not there. I explained to him before we left that they wouldn’t be, but he’s a stubborn boy and anything guitar related means Wiggles for him.

Going through the turnstiles back at the subway on our way home, we ran into Dan the man himself. We had an interesting conversation about New York, nannies (though he apologized profusely, he also mistook me for P’s nanny), the Upper West Side and Brooklyn. As we were chatting on the C train Uptown I couldn’t help but think to myself  “This is the first real adult conversation I have had with someone since being in New York”. How sad is that….Besides, people in stores and Chris I haven’t really had a back and forth conversation with any other adult.

Before he got off the train in Chinatown for the Malaysia Noodle Festival he was nice enough to give me his latest CD Little Nut Tree. It was a kind and unnecessary gesture from a stranger that I really appreciated, Preston and I have already had a little groove.

the business of birthing in NYC {Updated}

Back in the day women used to work in the fields, let out a small noise and then lean up against a fence, give birth and then strap the baby to their backs and continue to plough the fields. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but really when did this all become so complicated?

I admit, being in a new country with a very different healthcare system has made it just that more complicated. The health system in the US is a maze. Thankfully we are covered through Big Monkey’s work or else we just could not have made the move without it, we would have stayed on in New Zealand until we gave birth to Monkey #2.

I am trying as much as possible to create a birthing environment that I will feel comfortable in. That means, the less medical intervention while I labour, the better and Big Monkey will definitely be there supporting me along the way.

I’ve been reading about Birthing Centers, freestanding birth centers, hospitals, home births, hypnobirthing and water births. A combination of these appeals to me, but then I have to run it past my insurance company. Their are certain things they won’t cover, and certain we can’t afford if they don’t come to the party to help.

Everywhere I call, no one wants to take me this late in my pregnancy. One secretary when so far as in saying “30 weeks, no doctor will take you at 30 weeks!” *Oooph* that was the sound of me exhaling heavily from the blow she has just dealt me. I have already figured out that no midwife will take me, but now no doctor! How is Monkey #2 going to make it into this world.

So while I struggle to fully understand our insurance coverage, the search is still on for the doctor who will help deliver my baby.

October 10 update: I found a doctor! She is associated to the hospital that is my first choice (behind a birthing center). She supports me being as natural as possible and has even given suggestions to help me stay “in the zone” during the early stages of labor and beyond. I found her by saying to another doctor’s secretary that I was desperate. She felt for me, but her doctor just had no more room left, why didn’t I try this one?

We also met with a lovely doula, unfortunately our insurance does not cover doulas and her services were not something we budgeted for, so we are going to have to pass.

The doctor and I really gel. She was phenomenal in explaining how births “happen” in the US – fully aware that we’ve never had a child here. Tick, that’s one more thing off our list.

a castle in the heart of the city

Ghada at Belvedere Castle

Me with Belvedere Castle in the background

Within 15 minutes from our house we can walk to the magical Belvedere Castle in Central Park West. The name comes from the Italian for “beautiful view”. The 360 degree view from Belvedere Castle is truly spectacular. The Castle is also known for being the place where Manhattan wether and rainfall is recorded.

While you’re there, make sure to go for a wander in the Shakespeare Gardens. Lush bush, winding paths give these gardens a mystical Shakespearean feel.

confronting our neighbor, or how to say “b*tch, keep it down!”

picture of a woman trapped in a box. Photo by Dan Machold.

sometimes apartment living is like being trapped in a box

This is the first apartment Chris and I have lived in since 2002 where we lived close to downtown Montreal for a year and a half before returning to New Zealand.

Like everything else in New York, especially Manhattan, space is a premium. On the sidewalks everyone walks with a steely determination to get to where they want to go. On the Upper West Side this can mean veering in and out of moms with strollers and keeping out of the way of kids (and sometimes parents) on scooters. We’ve found that the floor between apartments in the old brownstones is paper thin, serving as a further reminder that we are all boxed into our cramped apartments literally living one on top of the other.

Stomp, stomp, stomp! That’s our upstairs neighbor padding across the floor at 4:00 in the morning. We’re not sure if she is actually a bear or in fact a human being. Her 4:00 am wake up call is usually followed by what can only be described as jumping and then self-flagellation as she races around after her shower (the f word and other expletives, are clearly heard in our room). I’m pregnant and Chris has busy days at work  – this loss of 2-3 hours of sleep per day has been wreaking havoc on our sanity for the past 2 weeks. Luckily her 1 bedroom apartment only takes up the back part of our place, so Preston never has to hear her – he gets to sleep like a baby. This is apartment living, so just lump it you say? Well, no I don’t believe it has to be like this. The she-bear living upstairs has no clue of her surroundings and or the basic things she could do out of respect for her neighbors. Things like not rocking around the house in high heels for 3 hours straight, putting your alarm on snooze while you take a shower so that is goes off again non stop for 15 minutes until you get out of the shower, slamming doors unnecessarily and skipping rope (I’m convinced her 4 am wake up is to do some sort of low impact workout that starts with skipping rope) would make her a much better neighbor.

We’ve decided we need to get up there and introduce ourselves first, then a week later if this is still going on we can hopefully bring up the subject in a friendly way.

What do you think? Have you ever had a loud neighbor? What did you do about it to restore some sort of peace to your personal space.

KiwiCanadian expat adventures with my husband and 2 kids from life in New Zealand to New York and back again. Adventures in inspired family living, travel, health & fitness.Read More »