Category Archives: driving

Up Early

We are jet lagged, or better yet, I am jet lagged. Everyone else in this house is over it but I am clinging to the sleep disruption like an infant. For the most part, I am fine. I enjoy the hours between four and seven — the house is empty, the TV is mine and I can bask in a few hours of super-productivity. The downside kicks in at five p.m. when I have to be physically restrained so as not to maim a child. I am tired and irritable and I can be around nobody. 

Except for Lois. 

That damn cat was so happy to see me when I came home from our two weeks away. I don’t think anybody has ever been that happy to see me and my kids go to sleepaway camp. She has slept on my head for the last few nights, just to make sure I’m here, which isn’t great for my allergies, but I can handle it.

I took her to the vet today for her yearly wellness visit. She’s been with us for over a year, but this was MY first time at the vet. The vet is a friend and usually comes to get Lois and drives her in. This time, however, I shoved Lois into a cat carrier and drove her to New Jersey. 

You may not know this about me but I am a nervous driver. I am an especially nervous driver in New Jersey. First, there is a bridge and I HATE driving over bridges. But in NJ you have to drive sandwiched in between angry trucks and the highway splits and forks with no notice. I inevitably miss all my exits and spend twice as much time in New Jersey as I need to. 

But I did it for Lois. 

She was not happy. She immediately began to cry in the car. This is how sad she looked in her cat carrier: 

 
So, I let her out. That’s right – I made the biggest rookie cat owner mistake and let her roam freely in the minivan while I drove in the rain. In the rain in New Jersey. (Did I mention that the van hit 100,000 miles this week? It did!) Lois kept crying but she did it from under my seat, near my feet, and the whole time I kept thinking: OH MY EFFING GOD. SHE IS GOING TO MAKE A SUDDEN MOVE AND I AM GOING TO DIE. I AM GOING TO DIE IN NEW JERSEY AND SPRINGSTEEN ISN’T EVEN HERE TO SEE IT. 

At some point she moved to the seat next to me and stared at me until I got to our destination. I think she went 20 minutes without blinking. Cats can do shit like that. When we arrived, I shoved her back in the box and took her inside to the vet. They immediately weighed her.  

 Of course, I didn’t quite get that Lois doesn’t have the same relationship with a scale at the doctor’s office that I do. 

“In the box?” I asked. 

Yes, I was told. They weigh the box separately and calculate her weight. 

“What about her collar? There are some heavy tags on there.” 

“Huh?” 

I stopped talking. 

Lois was a rock star at the vet (who in addition to being a friend, happens to be a rock star vet) and I learned from my mistake and kept her in the box on the way home. 

And now I have to go because I have writing to do and I only have a few more hours before bedtime. 

Goodnight. 

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Filed under cats, driving, Jet lag, pets

You spin me right round…

Winter in NYC. First snowfall and my shitty minivan got stuck at the bottom of a hill. Our house is on the top of the hill. Far better drivers than me (everyone I know) struggled to get the car up.

An inch of snow and a minor hill and I was totally grounded.

It’s going to be a long winter.

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This morning I drove the van to a tire place and got snow tires put on. This is my last ditch attempt to let the van show its worthiness.

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The tire guy told me I had to bring the car in to have the tires rotated at the end of the winter.

“Um, excuse me sir,” I whisper. “But don’t the tires rotate on their own? I mean isn’t that what tires do?”

Blank stare. Awkward laugh.

Apparently rotate means switch places.

Another day, another lesson.

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Filed under driving, Minivans, New York City, weather, winter

Good News and Bad News

A new friend told me that any tour of her family’s new house includes a look at her new boiler, which represents a chunk of cash they couldn’t spend on something a lot more fun, like a new bathroom.

So naturally I was less than thrilled when the boiler guy stood in my basement yesterday and spoke words you never want to hear from any repairman, let alone a boiler repairman: “I’ll put in this new part and then we should just pray.”

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(Photo is blurry to protect the identity of said boiler. Ok, not really. I just take crappy pictures.)

On the very same day I dropped my car off at the shop because it squeaks whenever I turned a corner or went over one of Riverdale’s many, many speed bumps.

“Tell him it’s the suspension,”‘said M.

I can’t tell you what suspension is, but I do know my minivan was no match for last years’s winter. Between the snow drifts, the crater-like potholes and the unpaved roads, the van crawled into spring on it’s last breath. (I have already written about the place in town that charges $25 to basically reattach the bottom of Honda Odysseys that have been torn off by ice.)

Later the day, in the middle of boiler drama, I get a call from my mechanic, Bruce.

(Allow me just say that if all people in life were a) this good at their jobs and b) this respectful to women, complainers and feminists would be out of business. And I’m not just saying this because his name is Bruce. Bruuuuuce.)

“Your suspension (whatever that is) is fine,” he said. “Wanna know why it’s squeaky? It’s your bike rack, and your front bumper, which is about to fall off.”

I didn’t feel like an idiot, because Bruce doesn’t let me. This summer when I drove in and said, “it’s barely running and the battery light just went on,” he said, “that’s not your battery, that’s your engine light, and I’ll fix it.”

No judging. No shame. Bruuuuce.

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The car is fine. And it seems that the boiler guy has a direct line to God, because it’s fine too.

Bring on winter. (Ok, not really.)

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Filed under driving, House, Minivans

My third arm.

I’m sure there’s a funny list somewhere of jimmy-rigged body parts parents wished they had — an actual eye in the back of our heads, ears that sealed shut, feet that felt no pain when they trampled on underfoot legos and Polly Pocket heads. But what I really need is an extra arm.

Especially in the car.

There are some things that are universal: ALL CHILDREN WILL WAKE UP AT SIX AM ON A SUNDAY BUT HAVE TO BE DRAGGED OUT OF BED ON A MONDAY MORNING AT SEVEN AM. KICKING AND SCREAMING.

Here’s another that may be universal as well (I’m curious), and the reason I could use that arm: The moment one of the girls (not the boys) finish an item of food anywhere, but especially in the car, the wrapping of that food turns to molten lava, and they are unable to touch it, even for a few seconds. Instead, they lose their minds completely until they have given me the detritus. (“Mummy! Take this trash! Now!”) This happens a lot when we are walking down the street and I have gotten much better at making them hold the string cheese wrapper until we come to a trash can, even if it pains them, which it clearly does.

But in the car, I am weak. They will not hold their trash and I do not make them. I do not want to hear the pained howling while I drive. Instead, I stretch one of my puny arms as far back as it will go and I retrieve the cheese wrapper, the cracker bag, the soggy, empty yogurt stick as they hoot and holler in agony. (The boys are more than happy to silently shove their trash in between the seats or under the seat in front of them.)

Which is why I need a third arm.

Or just a better backbone.

PS: I have been asked why there are no (Jewish) New Year’s resolutions this year. It’s because I’m my most perfect self and there’s nothing I could improve if I tried. Or not. It’s because the list is too long and painful and I just don’t want to think about it. I’ll wait until December 31st. Stay tuned.

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Filed under children, driving, Minivans, New York City, parenting

Love Me, Love My Van.

Usually I get stopped twice a month by a man in a car offering to fix the dings in my minivan. It is usually in a parking lot. I am usually polite, but firm in my refusal.

This week, however, I was stopped four times, twice in one day, and it is only Thursday.

“Hey lady! I can fix that good for you!”

“Hey lady! Why do you wanna drive around all banged up?”

Today a man pulled alongside me in his pretty golden convertible, AS I WAS DRIVING. He looked so sad when I told him, as I do all these men that I’d love the van to be all fixed up and pretty, but given that I’m likely to bang it all up again the very next day, it does seem somewhat unnecessary at best, wasteful at worst.

The man in the convertible looked like as though tears were about to spring from his eyes.

“For real?” he asked, his car still moving alongside mine like a shiny dolphin keeping up with a big, ugly, banged-up ship.

Quoting Fiona, I shot back: “Yes. For real life.”

Had I not turned down a street and driven away, I am sure he’d have offered to do it for free.

I wonder now what was most upsetting to him: the scratches, the dents, the duct tape holding the bumpers together, or the scars of duct tape past?

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Filed under driving, Minivans, New York City

End of year exhaustion is not just anecdotal…

Can you see this?

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This is the gate I use almost daily after I drop Sid off at school. It’s up a little hill on the way out of her preschool parking lot. It opens automatically as you approach. It’s a tad on the slow side though. Often I sit for a moment or two.

What I really, really want to know is this: Is there something wrong with me if I, at least twice a week, I try to open this gate with my garage opener from my house?

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Filed under children, driving, New York City, parenting, school

Fruit and Veg, NYC Style

There were some things I knew would better here (live theater, blah, blah) but I wasn’t expecting access to great produce to be one of them. Thanks to farmer’s markets, Fairway (where I’m quite certain I want to be buried), and a place called Garden Gourmet, I can get my hands on all sorts of green goodies, and many of them local. (I shudder to recall my first few trips to the local A and P, which I thought was my only local option. Some of the saddest looking produce on the planet, all of which looked like it had been grown in a Bronx toilet bowl.)

Garden Gourmet is the closest to me, but it’s by far the hardest to get to.

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Do you see that thing overhead? It’s this:

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An elevated subway train. You have to drive under it to get to the store. Each time I enter it, my heart stops.

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For some reason, drivers completely lose their shit when driving under this thing. Already aggressive people turn into complete monsters and it’s all compounded by the pounding noise of the train overhead. There are driving lanes and parking lanes, and it’s never clear which is which. People are turning and honking and no matter how much coffee I have beforehand, or how many pep talks I give myself, I always end up stuck in the middle of a turning lane, unable to move, blocking all traffic, and getting honked at and yelled at by drivers who seem to be on their way to a road rage support group.

I get the message: don’t drive. There’s free local delivery for orders over $75, so I think I am going to have to take the bus and get the stuff sent home.

There are many things I aim to conquer, but driving under the elevated subway is not one of them.

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Filed under driving, New York City, shopping, Uncategorized