Night Watch

Without my camera, I am more in the moment, even though I risk losing those same moment later on. Without my journal, I tend to float through the days, disconnected, less aware, not as intensely immersed in what the various layers of experience can converge into and come to mean. 

Right now I hear the sound of the ice cream man. It makes me think of screen-free week—I think it was April of last year—how at night after dinner we enjoyed the pink trees and read books and one time got ice cream from the ice cream man. Tonight Alex is off playing soccer and his mother is here with me—in the livingroom watching TV—and Alex’s sister took Wally for ice cream all the way down to 16 Handles, a bit of a walk, almost in the Village. And now here is the magical, ever-elusive ice cream man passing right by our house. 

Petra is unbelievably staying in bed—not asleep—but responding to this new round of training very well. I will come and check on her in three minutes if she stays there, no pop-ups or screaming. She is staying there in the bed that she could easily climb out of and she’s not screaming. Just a few nights ago I think it was maybe Sunday night I had had it with the protracted bedtimes and the fact that really the only way she could sleep was with Alex falling asleep next to her so I tried this again (we've "sleep trained" so many times I've lost count but this is the third with this method) and she screamed and protested and kept running out at first and Wally felt so bad for her and said, “She’s just a little girl back there and she’s been moving all around from house to house this summer and she’s not used to it.” I tried to explain to him that I was doing this really for her own good, too, not just my sanity but for her to be able to get enough sleep. It’s so true what one of the baby sleep books said way back when I read them in 2008 that however the baby falls asleep he’s going to need that to get back to sleep in the middle of the night. Is that conditioning? Any of the things we do – at first breastfeeding, or a bottle, or rocking to sleep, singing to sleeping, lying next to – most likely the baby will need those again to get back during the night and that’s going to be a huge problem. There are people I know who haven’t run up against this. One neighbor mom soothes her babies to sleep every night for an hour but after that the kids are down for the count until 8 in the morning or something. 

I have to keep jumping paragraphs in illogical places—I am thinking all in one paragraph these days. I am really so happy these days spending time with Wally and Petra. I’m glad that we have followed through on a lot of the projects we said we would do – like the birdhouse Wally made for my mom and the nature journal and the blue shelves Wally and Alex painted for Wally’s room. I have this problem where I am always too enthusiastic about too many ideas and scattered and starting them all with Wally just the same way I do with my own stuff. It’s crazy. I don’t know why I’ve never been thought of as a distracted person. I think I’m so hyper and distracted and skipping from one thing to the next all the time and so unable to reign myself in and stay small and just move forward at a reasonable pace.

My mother & sister in law left. Both kids are asleep. This is amazing, it’s not even 9 o’clock. The kids are asleep and Alex isn’t home yet. Because I have a babysitter tomorrow I feel justified in not working on anything tonight. It’s backbreaking sometimes, to have to work after the kids go to bed. Especially with the constant nerve-wracking possibility with every passing siren that Petra might wake up.

I kind of miss my grandmother’s couch that was here until a month or so ago. It really needed to go. Still the couch with the mirror and coffee table, those three things remained constant while for seven years nearly everything else in the apartment changed. But that meant that from the right angle it could seem like maybe nothing had changed. I could sit on the couch and kind of sink back in to how it used to feel to be here, and now it's really hard to do that.

Five years ago when I started this blog and was super into it that first summer I remember returning from Virginia for a few days—for my grandmother’s unveiling—and how it was only when I came back from a trip that I could sometimes catch in an evanescent moment the smell that I associated with the apartment. I don't even know what it was, exactly. Every once in a great while I catch like a sliver of that smell, Icy Hot mixed with something else I can't put my finger on, and that's really the only thing that can fully return to me the memory of what it was like to be here in this apartment when it was my grandmother's. Now it's the same place, but not.

I thought the mirror had always been there - but apparently not.

I feel like an adult sitting here now on the couch—is Ikea adult? Maybe not ones our age, but what I mean is it’s a couch we picked out and bought and one Alex carried by himself from the car. God I don’t even remember whose car that was. It must have been the beat-up black SUV we borrowed from Alex’s friend Steve in Queens. He lent it to us one August and somehow we still had it the next August and in between we got the couch and Alex chipped his tooth but he managed to get the couch in here himself.

I feel I guess a little lighter, like adulthood before parenthood, because there is a little bit of time now and it is mine. I think I’ve said this before but what a co-worker once warned me about vacations with kids is true—they’re not really vacations anymore, not in any of the ways you defined them as vacations before. At least not with young toddler about-to-break-everything melting-down-and asking to go to the bathroom 15 times while you’re out at a nice restaurant where you shouldn’t have brought kids kind of kids. Maybe when they’re more my nieces age, 10 and 11. Which, by the way, how are they 10 and 11? They were little kids. Again something blipped out, and they're not anymore. 

She's up! (Petra) And calling me. There's no way to follow this line of thought, no way to make it into a line of flight.

Most things in our garden died while we were away. Two beautiful zucchinis Wally grew, shriveled up--he never got see them. The rest of the garden is a jungle now, but not our plot, it's completely empty. We had to pull everything out and start again. 


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