Category Archives: new york

The $327 Teachable Moment

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Cars are stupid.

This has been one of those weeks. This is a week that began with the kids finding tap shoes and whistles at 6:30 a.m. on Monday. This is a week wherein, if I handle an egg, it inevitably leaps to the floor. This is a week of Spring Break, which means no school, holidays I never ended up figuring out how to celebrate and, apparently, snow. So you will not be surprised to learn that on Monday afternoon, my car was towed.

Allow me to set the scene: it was a beautiful (pre-snowstorm) spring day, and we had a lovely plan to meet a school friend of Harper’s at the Botanic Gardens. Did I know the Botanic Gardens were closed on Mondays? No I did not, though by this point in my day I should have seen the writing on the wall.

Once we discovered the Gardens were closed, Harper did a celebratory dance. She had not wanted to leave her game at home after all, and thought this meant a return to the great-apartment-dweller’s-whistles-and-tap-shoes performance. But this other family — four children and all — had already mobilized and I felt terrible, imagining that their kids like mine probably took forever to get ready to get out the door, and thus guessing they had been getting ready to meet us since three weeks ago — so we decided on the Prospect Park Zoo nearby. Unfortunately, I have been abusing our zoo membership lately, and the kids were getting a little meerkat-weary, so Harper proceeded to cross her arms and plop down on the sidewalk next to the car, screaming that she refused to go anywhere, and there had been much SIMPLY TOO MUCH not-being-at-home-with-tap-shoes-and-whistles. I responded the way any good, tired, frustrated, premenstrual mother would, by yelling loud enough to scare her into the car. Ollie responded by sitting in his carseat and taking deep, exaggerated breaths and singing, “Grownups Come Back.” (If there is a more heartbreaking response to a parental lack of composure, well, I’m sure I’ll see it soon.)

We made it to the zoo and it was impossible to park but I found a spot on a block where I’d parked once before on a morning visit to the zoo. And by found I meant STOLE a spot from a car that was making a U-turn for. Instant Karma is going to get you indeed.

The only caveat with this parking spot (or so I thought then) was that it was near the entrance of the zoo that involves a carousel and obviously I didn’t have cash, so it also involved a walk to at ATM, carousel ride, etc etc. This cheered everyone up enough to provide for a nice afternoon playdate, and everyone ran around and got really tired out, and then it was 5 p.m., late for us to be out and about still, but the sun felt so nice and the kids’ begging for ice cream on the way out so very loud that we stopped again, and ran around the park some more. Then, sun-stained and bleary-eyed, we went to to spot where the car was parked. Had been parked. Was not any longer parked. I went through the stages of grief in an eyeblink and then took a deep breath like I’d learned from somewhere, oh right from Ollie, and said, “Oh! Oh dear. Our car has been towed. Well, my mistake, I guess we weren’t supposed to park there after 4. Golly! Let’s take the bus home, doesn’t that sound fun?”

The kids burst into tears.

Ollie: “The bus is STINKY! I HATE the bus!”

Harper: “What about our CDs in the car??”

Ollie: “Well I don’t actually hate the bus but I want our car!”

Harper: (through heaving sobs) “When I grow up I’m going to be a police officer – wait no the PRESIDENT – and I am going to send a special tow truck to all the police cars and SMASH THEM!”

We trotted over to the bus stop. I’d already performed my most-self-loathing-inducing parenting move that day when I lost my shit and yelled, so I felt extra motivated to do this one right.  “Hey guys!” I said. “When you think about it, we are actually kinda lucky! Look, the bus stop is right here, and there’s a bench. It’s a nice day — what if it were cold and rainy right now? And we’ve taken this bus before and it goes right to our building, and I have a metrocard with money on it, and hey here’s the bus! Isn’t this actually kinda fun?”

They shook their heads and continued to weep at the thought of their precious Magic Treehouse: The Musical CD cold and alone, belting out show tunes about Camelot somewhere without them, . We got on the bus, much to the delight of the tired commuters, and found some nice seats for scream-weeping in.

The thing is, the more I repeated this to the kids — “This could have been so much worse. It’s really okay. It wasn’t the tow truck’s fault, it was my fault for not seeing the sign! And the next steps are really quite easy. You eat dinner, Daddy comes home, I go get the car, no big deal. Weren’t we lucky we were right by the stop for the bus with the route we know that goes right home? Weren’t we lucky it was a nice warm night?” — the more it felt true. Even as I headed to the Navy Yards at dusk. Even as I paid the unspeakable towing fee. Even as I got in the car with the police escort — at least they try to help you not get murdered on your way through the lot — to go find my poor lonely car.

“Miss Amy,” said the elderly man, looking at my paperwork, “You’re doing really well. I see a lot of angry people on this job. You’re doing really well.”

“Thank you,” I said, the teacher’s pet in me absurdly pleased at this thought. “I have been doing deep breathing.”

“They are really cracking down on parking violations. I’m about to throw in the towel, to be honest. I’m too old for this. Nice young ladies like you out here because you were parked in the wrong place for a few minutes. It’s too much.”

Torn between loyalty to the new mayor I did after all vote for and have a weird friend-crush on, and indignance at the expense and inconvenience of the mishap (wasn’t there some sort of regulation that if they see two car seats in the car they let you go with a slap on the wrist? Maybe a $0 warning parking ticket like they had in sweet old Iowa City?) — I nodded.

“Now, Miss Amy, did they tell you there will also be a ticket on your car?”

I was so flattered by his complimenting my coping skills that I wanted to maintain my facade as someone good at dealing with stress, so I took another deep breath, hummed “Grownups Come Back” to myself, and said, “Oh? Well that figures! What a day, right?” I pictured the angry red chart my accounting app would show again this month. I took the parking ticket off the windshield, got in the car, and accidentally listened to a full song of the kids’ eardrum-bruising CD before I remembered I could turn it off.

The kids were very shaken up by this whole experience, and wanted to recap the next day. I repeated the importance of seeing the bright side, starting to actually believe myself. Ollie switched songs to Peg + Cat‘s “Problem solved! Problem solved! We solved the problem, now everything is awesome, problem solved!” (Don’t judge, that PBS app saves my life some days.) A few minutes later, he threw up his still-chunky cheerios all over the floor. Harper stared, a hand over her mouth. Then she shrugged and said, “Oh well! This is good practice for me for when I’m a doctor some day! I bet I’ll have to get used to seeing throw-up!”

Everything is awesome, indeed.

What’s Missing, What’s Here: On The Eve of My Book’s Birth Day

I seem to be living in a spiral-shaped sea shell these days. Harper turned four on Monday. Ollie will be two in a few weeks. And this Tuesday, April 2nd, a few days after the kids’ birthday party with all its balloons and frosting, my book officially comes out. The Mermaid of Brooklyn is about a mother with two kids, two years apart, like mine, but I started writing it when Harper was just a few months old, one day after a visit to the swingset, with her asleep in the carrier on my chest. I was thinking about my great-grandmother and rusalkis and the weird culture of Brooklyn parenting more than my actual parenting experiences, although of course it all gets mixed in together. And on Tuesday, my book launch will be at Powerhouse on 8th, the new bookstore in the building I lived in when I wrote the book. 2 kids, 4 years, and a move later: the book.

Of course I’m so excited and thankful. But also: confused.

Thanks to Jenna Blum for my very own milk carton!

Thanks to Jenna Blum for my very own milk carton!

Due to ongoing contract disputes between my publishers and Barnes & Noble, it’s very unlikely anyone will be able to find my book at a B&N store. In many parts of the country, that’s the only place to go and stroll about and discover a new book. I know my suburban Chicago B&N outlet was where I went on weeknights as a teenager to drink cinnamon-plum tea and read philosophy texts and women’s magazines (yes, at the same time) with my best friend and browse around in the quiet store at 8 pm and happen upon some book on a table I never would have heard of otherwise — and I feel like B&N should remember this, and care. I guess what I’m saying is, I really love B&N. I love my indies, and always support them, but when I was growing up in the suburbs, B&N was a sanctuary of sorts for me. And I have been so happy with Simon & Schuster and everyone at my division, Touchstone, and all their support of my book, and I get that both sides have their reasons. I know. It’s not personal.

What replaced my neighborhood Barnes & Noble.

What replaced my neighborhood Barnes & Noble.

But then, also, an unexpectedly nice thing has happened, because of all this B&N business: S&S authors, all (coincidence?) female novelists, have banded together to try to get our books on the radar.  M.J. Rose, Jenna Blum, Randy Susan Meyers — these are authors I have only known from afar, who are doing what I aspire to — writing smart books about women’s lives that readers obsessively love — and yet suddenly we’re all tweeting each other all the time. I feel this solidarity with other writers whose books are coming out into this mess, like we are all book-sisters (and not just competing for the seven spots for reviews left in the country). And there’s something really, really nice about that. I would post all their book covers here but I still have a lot of laundry to fold. So go here, and check out these wonderful books!

I once read an interview with an author whose debut novel had been largely ignored. When asked how he felt about the book’s reception he said something like, “You know, my wife and I just had our first baby, and that is a very good distraction, and puts everything else into perspective.” I loved this. I’ve found balancing writerhood and mothership to be challenging. It’s hard to find the time and focus and energy to write, even if, maybe especially if, you’re writing ABOUT motherhood. But I’ve also the combination to be a nourishing one.

Take today: I could have spent the day obsessing about my book and what will or won’t happen with it, but I was too busy having an adventure on the subway and a raucous playdate and making Charlie & Lola decorations for the birthday party. Ollie played in an afternoon sunbeam, swiping his hand at the glowing dust motes, laughing hysterically. Harper told me she was having a hard time deciding whether to be a doctor or a teacher. At bedtime, the kids cuddled up and Harper read Ollie his favorite books, and he propped his fat little cheek in his fat little hand to listen intently, and I almost cried, and that was all that really mattered about today. I’m lucky, lucky, lucky and I know it. I would of course like to be a lucky, lucky, lucky author with books in B&N but whatever, I’ll take what I can get.

And so:

If you live in New York City, please join me at one of my readings! Wine and bunny crackers, obviously, will be served.

If you don’t, please go into your local Barnes & Noble and with a very puzzled look on your face, ask where oh where is that great Mermaid of Brooklyn book you’ve been hearing so much about could be.

And finally, if you can identify the provenance of the bookstore pictured above, feel a moment of in-on-the-joke pride. Go on, really enjoy it. Then, tell me in the comments (but don’t Google it, you dirty cheater)and if you’re the first one to do so (and you are not my husband) I’ll send you a book!

The Black Apple, always awesome.

The Black Apple, always awesome.

When The Tragedy Isn’t Yours

Jane’s Carousel, beacon of light in the storm. Harper has vowed to try a horse that goes up and down next summer and by gum those horses better be ready.

A little ago Harper asked me “Are there mean people in real life?” I debated for an instant before admitting, “Yes. Yes there are.” There was a long pause and then she said, “But not in New York.” “That’s right,” I told her.

When you think about having kids you say things like “Oh, how can people bring an innocent little baby into this world,” but it’s usually just something you’re saying because you think you should at least entertain the thought, when really your mind is whirring with tiny chub-thighs and screen-printed onesies and that intoxicating baby smell. Then you have the kids and then you know what that statement means, you know your crazy love for them, you know the chilling dread of something bad ever happening to them. Because it probably will.

In the past two weeks, the world, the news, and my brain have been churning with terribleness. First there was the horrifying, haunting Krim family tragedy, which was none of my business, none of anyone’s business but that poor broken family, that mother who lived through every mother’s nightmare – the very story seemed custom-made to torture every parent who has ever had to leave their child with someone and felt uneasy — the senselessness, the horrible imagery.

Then a few days later came Hurricane Sandy (excuse me, Super-Storm Sandy), which hit the city worse than I think any of us really believed possible. Yes, we heard on the news about the evacuation zones and the potential for floods and all that, but we also heard a lot of that last year circa Irene and nothing much happened, and besides, hurricane damage just isn’t the kind of story we’re used to around here. And even here in good old KWT it feels abstract. It was windy and ominous feeling the days before the storm, but in our big tank of an apartment building we scarcely heard a thing. I slept soundly the night of the storm (I always do, the benefit of exhaustion). The kids hardly noticed anything. On Halloween, playschool had a party, we trick-or-treated. I worried that Ollie had too much sugar. And yet here, just miles away, in our own city, in our own borough, people are suffering. People have suffered unimaginable losses. Their homes, everything. A friend’s friend was killed by a falling tree. In another specially-designed-mother-torture story, a woman in Staten Island saw her two young sons swept out of her arms by flood waters. It’s a cliche to say you don’t have words but…I don’t have words.

So, probably because stories are too much for me to really comprehend, I find myself fixating on the aquarium, Coney Island, ruined books, the trees in the park – these losses are significant, but on a scale I understand. These things make me really, really sad – but not despairing.

Then today I found out a dear friend’s brother was murdered – senselessly, narrativelessly. She is drowning in sorrow and shock. I just never thought murder had anything to do with my family, she said, and I knew exactly what she meant. That’s why all three of these horror stories (one encompassing so many others, an anthology of destruction and mess and sorrow) have me feeling adrift – none of them makes any sense. This one aches particularly, because one of my best friends in the world — a bright, creative, compassionate, completely unique and hilarious and kind person — has had her life blown apart.

But I also feel like I don’t actually have any right to be shaken up, to feel sorrow. None of these stories is actually mine. In each instant I think, selfishly, awfully, I’m so glad that wasn’t my family, my kid, and then I feel disgusting, like that’s exactly what I would think people were thinking and hate them for if it really were happening to me. In each case, there is an initial thought to be fought, that urge to prove to yourself that it couldn’t actually happen to you, because of… because of nothing, there is no protecting your own family by somehow finding a way to blame others for the blameless act of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

How do you deal with tragedies that aren’t really yours? It’s a privileged question to ask, and possibly a silly one. But I still feel so sad. I guess I should just feel lucky that I have the luxury of a dull, thick-headed sympathy pain. I’m going to go help make food for an evacuation shelter tomorrow morning. I feel like this is a lame effort, a bandaid flung into a river of blood. And I know it’s mostly for me to feel a little better, but okay, I’ll take it. I want to be around New Yorkers who are trying to help, to feel like I’m a part of something, I guess, or trying to be anyway. That’s probably not the right reason, I realize this.I want to live in Harper’s world, where mean people seem imaginary. Where nothing bad B-A-D bad happens to us, or people we know, because it’s just not part of the story we know, so how could it?

Sorry to be such a bummer. Everything else seems lame to write about right now. And it’s daylight savings time, FML, which means the kids will be up at 4 am, and they are my cherished loves-of-my-lives but fuck if I love anything at 4 am. File under non-problem problems, I know.

PS: The week before the storm, Adam happened to take the kids to the Aquarium:

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It Happened to Me

Harper at the Children’s Museum. (Photo somehow in LlGC ~ NLW’s Flickr photostream)

Who remembers the “It Happened to Me” column from Sassy magazine? I always wanted to contribute, but sadly, nothing ever happened to me. No abusive boyfriends, no messily divorced parents, no getting sold into slavery, UGH.

Once you’re a parent, however, there are many more opportunities for terrifying and dramatic things to happen, and/or for small things to suddenly become terrifying and dramatic.

Here’s one thing that happened. It was a few months ago, and I think my heart JUST now stopped racing from it.

Harper got lost.

At the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

For, like, five minutes.

It was just how you think something like that will happen. I was bent over putting Ollie’s shoes on, and a noisy Catholic school group of older kids swept by like a flock of geese in plaid, and when they were gone, so was Harper. My friend who I was there with and I looked at each other, looked around. “Harper?” I peeked around the corner.The looking-at-bugs-with-magnifying-glasses section? Nope. The pretend-pizza-shop? Nope. Huh.

My urge to be a calm, collected, non-freaking-out mother has me constantly quieting my brain’s urge to panic, so I stuffed Ollie into the carrier and started fast-walking around in a sort of hectic fake-calm, calling Harper’s name, looking around, garbling incomprehensible things at bystanders: “Did you see my? Dress and braids? Harper?” After a minute, my friend and I exchanged a look, and I commenced internal freakout.  I just KNEW she’d been SNATCHED BY AN EVIL CHILD-SNATCHER who would obviously pay admission to get into the Brooklyn Children’s Museum just to CAPTURE INNOCENT BABIES.

I raced to the admissions desk by the front door, and sputtered: “Child! Missing! Girl! Mine! Blond!” A young man nodded and said, “Ma’am, it’s all right, it’s only that you’ve endangered your child by blogging about how adorable she is, you fool, don’t you know that only creepos read the internet?” “Excuse me?” I said. He repeated himself: “You stay here. We will find her. This happens all the time. Don’t worry.” Then he said into his walkie-talkie, “Code 3” (or something.) For some reason it was very reassuring to me that they had a code for this. Oh, so it’s just a thing that happens so often they can’t even be bothered to say it! That’s good!

I stood at the desk mournfully watching the door and the busy street beyond it for an excruciating 20 seconds or so. Then another employee called out, “Found her!”

And there she was: happily driving the city bus, a few feet away. “Hi Mama!” she chirped. I threw myself on her, squeezing her with crushing freakout-love, causing her to wiggle away and look at me like I was crazy. A nearby nanny I know from around the neighborhood told me she’d recognized Harper and told her to stay put until her mommy found her. I fought an urge to smother the nanny with hugs and kisses too.

Turns out, Harper was completely unaware that I considered her lost. “But I knew where you were,” she explained. “YES BUT I NEED TO KNOW WHERE YOU ARE TOO,” I said, squeezing her hands as I did for the next three days. It did make me realize this was a conversation we’d never really had: what to do if you’re lost. My friend shared what she’d heard, which was to tell your kid that if she is lost she should find a lady or a mommy to help her. In my day you were supposed to look for a policeman or someone official looking, which actually sounds ridiculous now, which is sad, but whatever.

Now whenever we are somewhere crowded I remind Harper in a strained, trying-to-sound-nice-but-really-still-freaking-out voice, that she always has to be able to see me. The other day at the botanic gardens she made a point of walking backwards while drilling my eyes with hers for a good minute before she forgot and started running after a bird. Whatever. I remind her now and then about the “find a lady” rule, and try to still not freak out about things too much, and to remind myself of how in the end, that was a pretty good way to learn that lesson — in a protected, indoor place for children, where they even have a code for it.

So here’s another thing that happened: we had a fire in our home. (I already blogged about it over at the day job blog, in a post that actually sort of had a point.) Yes, home, the home we just PURCHASED. It was pretty sweet. I’m super glad we didn’t burn the building down. The co-op board just hates when that happens. So, yeah, this ceiling fan we’d inherited (whatever, it was ugly) had stopped working, but apparently deep in its tinny guts it was still trying to work, and sort of, like, exploded? All of the sudden, flames were shooting out from the ceiling. I was kidding before when I said it was sweet. It sucked.  But again there were many “thank goodnesses.”  I was home with Ollie while Harper was at school, so she didn’t have to be freaked out by it. Again, it could have been so much worse. I was right there. I was holding Ollie. I saw it happen, was uninjured, called 911, they arrived in a split-second, there was only a bit of smoke-damage.

And on the upside, I got to answer for myself the question: what would you grab in case of a fire? Our carefully-curated “fire folder”, containing our birth certificates and wedding photo negatives and such? Nah. The kid and the dog. That’s it, not even my wallet, oof. But hey, at least I took the dog with me to freak out in the lobby while greeting the firemen with a quivering “There! Up! My kitchen! Fire!” When I told Adam the whole story he said, “Hey, you took Quimby! Nice!” with just a touch of surprise.

So anyway. Those were the scary things that happened, and you know what? Even though I’ve now been able to write this “It Happened to Me,” I think I’d rather just keep having a boring life where nothing really too bad happens. I’m a fiction writer anyway.

(Which reminds me…the last round of revisions of the novel have been turned in! So I can once again spend my evenings doing relaxing things. Like finishing moving in. Yes, it’s been two months. Shhh we’ve been busy.)

This is Kensington. Or Windsor Terrace. Or Something.

ocean parkway and caton avenue

Our corner, as it was in the 1940s. Thanks, Brooklyn Collection!

Well! So! We did it! We moved! It went kind of like this:

March, 2011: “Hey, we’re having another baby! But wait, we live in a 1.5 bedroom. Okay, a 1 bedroom. Oh, who cares.”

August, 2011: “HOLY SHIT WE HAVE TO MOVE.”

November, 2011: “Wait, what? After some months of getting super depressed about how super depressing Brooklyn real estate is, we found a non-depressing apartment? Weird! Let’s buy it!”

February, 2012: “Wait, what? We bought an apartment? HOLY SHIT NOW WE HAVE TO MOVE.”

From thence followed very shoddy packing, some chaotic days of moving, including panic attacks about whether or not our voluminous books-n-records collections were going to make our movers commit seppuku, some very shoddy unpacking, still not finished. Oh, I forgot the spirit-crushing anxieties over retiling the kitchen and bathroom and repainting and changing light fixtures and doorknobs and whatnot, which caused me to guiltily remember every time I’d mentally answered someone’s “Man, my renovations are killing me” with a resounding (albeit silent) “SHUT YOUR PRIVILEGED LITTLE TALK-HOLE!” (Turns out that stuff actually really is stressful. Who knew!)

So anyway, we made it, we’re here, in our new little corner of Brooklyn. If you’re from Brooklyn, we are on the border between Kensington and Windsor Terrace. If you’re not, we are still kinda near Park Slope, on a different corner of the park. Or, as our Manhattan-bound real estate lawyer put it, “Kinda near the ocean?” Exactly. Actually, you know, all of New York City is an…oh, never mind.

In EB White’s great essay Here is New York, he writes:”A woman friend of mine moved recently from one apartment to another, a distance of three blocks. When she turned up, the day after the move, at the same grocer’s that she had patronized for years, the proprietor was in ecstasy–almost in tears–at seeing her. “I was afraid,” he said, “now that you’ve moved away I wouldn’t be seeing you anymore.” To him away was three blocks, or about seven hundred and fifty feet.”

This is precisely so. We’ve been moaning about how weird it would be to leave the place we lived for 7 years, our beloved best-ever neighborhood, and then sniffling and saying things like, “Well, I guess if we really miss the bakery/bodega/block we could always…walk over one day. It would take like 15 minutes though.”

But I have to say, so far we really love it. First of all, the space. We have our own bedroom! Adam and I, that is. The kids have their own bedroom! Shared, that is. (If you’re from Brooklyn: I know, isn’t that exciting? A bedroom! With a window and a closet and a door! If you’re from anywhere else in the country excepting possibly San Francisco: Yes, the kids share a room, get over it.) We have  multiple closets and multiple doors! The kitchen has these storagey things called “cabinuts” or something! It’s all quite thrilling. And the building is full of friendly kids and neighbors and dogs and such. Harper’s favorite thing ever is pushing the elevator buttons. My favorite thing ever is pushing my SUV of a double stroller into the elevator. People, this is the life.

I’m already feeling protective of Kensington, though. I was just about to write about how I love my new coffee shop/office, our new playground, our new library branch, our new playspace, and then I was about to write something about how none of these places are as ridiculously crowded all the time as their shinier Park Slope counterparts (we’ve never waited in line for a swing at the playground here, if you can believe it), but then I thought, Waaaaiiiit- If I tell everyone how great it is here than everyone else will move here and then where will I be? In line for a goddamned swing is where.

Then I remembered that, thank goodness, I hardly have that kind of influence. Or readership. And also, we’ve only been here a few weeks. There’s plenty of time to realize we’ve made a TERRIBLE MISTAKE AND RUINED OUR LIVES AND THE LIVES OF OUR INNOCENT CHILDREN.

Nah. Come on, Steeplechase Coffee has red velvet twinkies! What could go wrong?

Here We Are

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The Read Balloon: A Glorious Day

great kids' booksI’m officially behind on everything: this blog, every blog, to-do lists, returning phone calls, social interactions, personal hygiene. And this is in part because of a very wonderful, thrilling new stress: we are moving! Yes, after looking on and off for two years or something like that we have found an apartment and then we bought it and now we have to do something about getting ourselves in there. Hold on, you say. That’s nice, but isn’t this a Read Balloon post about books somehow? Stay with me here, yes, I’m getting to it.

So the place we are moving into is a big ole 1950’s co-op building with 55 units and some exciting features: elevator, laundry, and tons of kids. We’ve already been to a birthday party there — there are 10 kids under the age of 3 — and were regaled with tales of intra-building playdates on cold winter days, chase games in the corridors, laundry room toddler jamborees, and holiday parades in the lobby. We’re so excited!! It is going to be our favorite and our best!

All of this is relevant because the book Harper and I have been obsessed with lately is Amy Schwartz‘s excellent A Glorious Day. It’s one of those sweetly uneventful books (a friend who was roped into reading it 9 times in a row to Harper was like, “What is up with that book anyway?”) that really appeals to small children. Harper loves to read and reread details like what kids have for breakfast, or how they prepare for bed — after all, these are the main events of her life too.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The book is basically an ode to Brooklyn family life, and this (along with the wonderful illustrations) is why I’m okay with reading it 7,000 times a day. 10 kids (am I counting right?) live in a little 4-unit apartment building, and the book is concerned with all these kids — the baby, the little kids, the big kids — spend their day. They play in their small apartments, they meet up in the stairwells and on the stoop, they stroll down the block to the playground. They flow in and out of each others’ lives organically — hearing each other in the bath at bathtime, helping each other locate lost pets, seeing one another at the store on on the street. With all the aspects of city life that seems so unwholesome for growing children, I love a good reminder of what’s so wonderful about it — the built-in community, the sights and sounds, the constant stream of interesting stimuli.

Plus, Schwartz’s illustrations are so lovable. We’ve already packed the scanner or I would share my favorite page, which features the bedtime arrangements of all the kids in the buildings and all the various shared bedrooms (another newfound interest of mine) — the bunkbeds next to the crib, the twin beds lined up Madeline-style. I’m so glad we stumbled upon this book, which came to us at just the right time, as all good books do.

Now let’s hope I can somehow return it to the library on time. This move has me psychotically scattered, but that’s another post. A post I will never have time to write.

A Glorious Day by Amy Schwartz

A Glorious Day by Amy Schwartz. Warning: This subversive text features children jumping on sofas and eating potato chips for breakfast. Just so you're prepared.