Tempted to imitate Yves Klein’s Anthropométries 🟦 with B. Cover the kitchen floor in big sheets of paper, put a bunch of nontoxic paint in a kiddie pool, get the diaper off, and have at it. Much more fun than finger painting strapped in his high chair, this kid wants to MOVE.
Updated my Now page, contents below for posterity. View past presents.
Since the last update:
We moved to Brooklyn. B 🌱 is a little over 9 months old. I’m wrapping up my independent dev practice 👩🏻💻 and about to start a full time position as a front-end engineer (!). Autumn rushed by 🎃, winter lingered 🥶, spring has sprung 🌷. Covid 🦠 is still a thing.
Putin’s Russian army invaded Ukraine.
If I’m honest, writing this feels a bit… extra, right now. Extra as in work I don’t need, extra as in a bit self-indulgent. There has been so much going on, it’s hard to sift through and figure out what is important. And hard to pause for a breath. But I’ll be angry at myself in the future for not doing it, I’m already frustrated it has taken so long, so here it is.
These are a few things that I’ve wanted to do and have either done, am doing, or am still pondering.
Move to Brooklyn. We had always intended to move to NYC, but we ended up taking a more circuitous route for a handful of reasons. At any rate, we’re here, for almost 6 months now, and it feels like a really good fit. It’s a lovely feeling after being somewhat in limbo for so long. B started daycare soon after we got here, and he seems to love it. He’s now crawling and cruising. He really seems to like computers, phones, and wires, which are an ever-present hazard. This is the first place we’ve lived that we’ve been able to furnish, would you believe. Most rental places in the UK are fully furnished, and the family apartment we rented in SF was fully furnished as well. It’s been wonderful really making a place our own, also a bit expensive. Thank goodness for secondhand stuff.
Wrap up my independent practice, find a full time position. I’m going to be a front-end engineer at SuperHi as of this coming Monday! There’s a lot more to be said about why I’ve wanted to do this and why SuperHi feels like a good fit, but that’s for a separate post. Right now, I’m racing to tie up some loose ends with existing clients. It should mostly be done by the time I start, thank goodness. I’m really going to miss a lot of the people I collaborate with, and the opportunities I no longer get to take. One came in this morning that I was gutted to turn down. But who knows, these things might come around again.
Establish a better day-to-day routine. We’ve fallen in to a decent rhythm, I think. Right now, Sam and I alternate wearing earplugs at night so that at least one of us can get a full night’s sleep regardless of whether or not B wakes up. We both get up at 6:30am, Sam to get B up and me to get ready (shower, get dressed, breakfast, etc.). Then we trade around 7:10am so Sam can get ready, and I entertain B for a bit. At about 7:55am, we both get B ready to go to daycare (bottles + food in a cooler bag, get a clean sleep sack, bibs, pants, etc. ready in case he needs them during the day), and they’re out the door for daycare dropoff by about 8:05am. I then “reset” the apartment so it’s tidy for the day. Empty the dishwasher and dish rack, pick up loose toys or B’s clothes, make the bed, etc. I’m usually ready to work by 8:30am, which is good timing for my day since I’ve got to stop work around 4:35pm, out the door by 4:45pm at the latest, in order to pick B up. We get back at about 5:20pm. At that point, for him, it’s basically dinner, bath, bottle, books, bed. We try to all eat together, but that can sometimes be tough if we haven’t planned enough in advance. He’s lights-out by 7:30pm. After he goes to bed, I usually do a little bit of life admin and then try to chill a bit. I try to be in bed by 9:30pm, asleep by 10pm, but it’s usually more like in bed at 10 and asleep by 11. Recently I’ve been reading before bed, which has helped a bit. Of course, all the above is out the window if daycare has to close due to Covid. I’m not sure when the NY DOH will lift that rule, maybe once vaccines for under-5s are available?
Read more. I was spending way too much of my limited down time watching things on YouTube, doing too much research on something B-related, or doomscrolling the news for updates on the war in Ukraine. I started re-reading the Discworld novels after Lucy Bellwood mentioned Small Gods, and it’s like being reunited with an old friend. I’d like to read Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi next. I haven’t stopped watching stuff though. Recently Old Enough has been delivering when I need a purely wholesome fix.
Meet up with people more often, and meet new people. I’ve been getting somewhere with this, but it’s tough. I hate to be that person that has to schedule way in advance, or has to cancel last minute, but it often feels like there’s no way around it with B. Everyone seems pretty understanding. I met up with an internet friend for drinks IRL a week or two ago which was wonderful. I’d love to meet her again, but I’m not sure she necessarily wants another mom friend. But who knows, maybe that’s just me projecting! Besides day-to-day stuff, we’ve made some travel plans. And it feels like this time we might actually be able to stick to them. We’re supposed to see my family in Michigan in June, Sam’s family and our UK friends in July. I guess there’s still a chance that could get cancelled but… surely not this time?
Improve my fitness, posture, and strength. I was this close to signing up for South Brooklyn Weightlifting Club, but then was offered the position at SuperHi and realized that their schedule just doesn’t mesh with mine. Maybe at some point in the future. For now, I’m going to start running to pick up B if my knee will take it. I just still don’t feel right in my body over nine months after childbirth, and I feel this would help.
Find somewhere to sing. I’d like to sing with others, but not sure if it’s time yet for me to find a choir. Hopefully soon. My main audience right now is B, he seems to appreciate it. Need to learn “Duérmete mi niño” next.
We have old dining chairs with a teak base and a bent plywood backrest and seat, originally from the UK supposedly but bought at McCarney’s in SF. They’re old and well-used, so the screw holes in the plywood seat are getting loose. When the holes blow out and the seat comes off, these are the steps to fix them:
- Pull away any badly blown out chips of the seat base plywood so that you can get it properly level later with filler.
- Drill out the stripped hole with a 15/64″ bit. Use masking tape to mark how deep you should go without blowing through the top.
- Put a drop of wood glue in the hole and use a toothpick or similar to spread it around.
- Hammer a 1/4″ fluted dowel in to the hole and let the glue dry as long as it needs.
- Saw the end of the dowel off as flush as you can, then sand down the dowel and any rough bits.
- Use wood filler to fill any dings or gaps, and allow it to set up before sanding.
- Align the base on the seat to the indentations that are already there, then lightly hammer the screws in to create divots for your pilot holes.
- Drill pilot holes in your dowels where the divots are. They should be pretty centered on the dowels, and about the same depth as when you drilled out the stripped hole in step #2.
- Screw the base on to the seat.
Quick tip: Buy wood filler in the little can, not a tube. The tube dries out very quickly and is impossible to un-jam. Also, if the stripped hole is a real mess and seems like it needs to be larger than about 1/4″, get the next size up fluted dowel. The bit you use should be 1/64″ smaller than the dowel ideally, or the same size if that’s not possible. If you can’t find dowels the size you want, you can go down the toothpick / matchstick route.
Two down, two to go.
There is a bird that hangs out in the tree behind our apartment, its call is super distinctive. It goes like this (recording below is me whistling an octave down from the actual bird call):
If I were describing it in musical notation, it’d be in F minor starting on the fourth, then to the minor third, then to the root, then repeating the root in a pattern three times. Maybe two times? I’m not sure, it’s night right now and the little dude is asleep.
I don’t think it’s identical every time, I think I’ve heard a few that have a very slightly different interval between the second and third pitches, and a different duration for the third pitch. But they’re all usually within this range, very close.
I just found this NYT article about identifying local NYC birds. Based on that, I am 99% sure our neighbor is a White-throated Sparrow.
It’s funny though, when I listen to other White-throated Sparrow calls online they are similar, but not really the same. Ours is a bit less frantic, more relaxed and sing-songy. It’s like a slightly different dialect or something. Maybe our little collection of sparrows have a Brooklyn accent.
I’ve never been super enthused about identifying birds via binoculars. I mean I find it find it interesting, but not compelling. But identifying birds by their call, that’s something I could get in to.
Lying in bed for ages thinking “why can’t I get to sleep”, then I finally realize every muscle in my body, every fiber of my being is tense.
How does it surprise me every time? A mindful body scan usually does the trick.
When I was a kid, probably around 5, I distinctly remember this moment where I was lying in my twin bed staring at the doorway and suddenly thinking, “How do you fall asleep? … I don’t know how to fall asleep!”
I realized that I had never actually experienced the moment of falling asleep (of course not, I was half-asleep at that point) and started overthinking it. It became this process I didn’t understand, and then I was just lying there wide-eyed not understanding and confused about what to do next.
I’m not sure if it was that night or a few nights later, but I eventually asked my mom how to fall asleep. She looked at me and said, “… Um, just close your eyes?” I did, and to me the next day, it seemed like I had fallen asleep instantly. It felt like a revelation, that there was such a simple answer.
I sometimes notice nowadays, that moment between wakefulness and sleep.
Every once in a while I notice my thoughts getting weirder and more abstract and suddenly think, this is it. It’s quite an incredible state, nothing like it. I guess it’s lucid dreaming, but it’s so short… I try to stay in that state but it’s almost impossible, thinking about it wakes me up and leaning in to it makes me fall asleep.
Sometimes I get in to the same state upon waking, but unfortunately that’s usually because I’m coming out of a nightmare.
B is learning that he has influence on his surroundings, the world isn’t just something that has to happen to him.
It started maybe a month or so ago when I was gently leaning him back to put him in his sleep sack. He suddenly threw his hand out and caught himself, preventing me from lying him down. Actually, even a bit before that he started pushing away his bottle when he didn’t want any more.
Now he’s grabbing at the pages in his board books, trying to turn them.
It’s pretty fun to watch.
Everything and nothing is normal.
Maslow’s (simplified) hierarchy of needs, based on the hierarchy Abraham Maslow published in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”.
It’s not perfect and definitely shouldn’t be treated as universal, but I find it useful. For understanding my own behavior, many others’ behavior. Also for thinking a bit more about my approach to parenting.
The hierarchy is frequently visualized as a pyramid, but that’s not a perfect analogy. What’s something with permeable, blurred layers that maintains a definite order… Maybe a trifle? Why not.
Maslow considered the “bottom” four to be “deficiency” needs, meaning that not sufficiently meeting those needs would lead to anxiety, tension, and overall poor mental health. It would be pretty hard to focus on self-actualization without the meeting the deficiency needs.
I see the bottom layers as part of that all-important maintenance we have to perform on ourselves. You can get away without caring about self-maintenance as an adult, but only at the expense of others who have to compensate for you.
Amongst the people I most frequently encounter, and myself, we seem to be most insidiously deficient in belonging. Also esteem, but this feels like a knock-on effect from the lack of real belonging. (It may go without saying, but I am extremely fortunate to live within communities where our physiological and safety needs are fairly easily met.)
We desperately need to belong, but we increasingly feel that we don’t. This is exacerbated by both social media and 24hr news cycles. Who among us hasn’t once felt that the world as it is now, the direction it seems to be hurtling, isn’t made for them? For some people, these feelings are fleeting. For others, it is their albatross. And this feeling seems to be building. It doesn’t surprise me that this is one of the most divisive moments in my lifetime.
I think that the lack of belonging is also exacerbated by the independence-at-all-costs mentality that plagues much of the US in particular. You can’t feel belonging and be 100% independent. Belonging is a give and take operation, not lone-wolfism.
Again, all this reminds me of CBToF.
There is more to be said on this, and probably a lot here that I’m wrong about, but all I have in me right now is sleep. Maintenance.
See Sam’s flapjack on Recipes for Food. I couldn’t ever seem to get flapjack right until this recipe.