One Year

Today we have been living at our small farm apartment for one year. It is Labor Day weekend and the population of the North Fork of Long Island seems to have doubled. Wherever I have gone this weekend, there has been a line. I was just complaining to my friend that all of these people come here to do things and I am just sitting inside with a cup of coffee and the NY Times. He pointed out that we actually do all of the tourist things, just when the tourists are not here so we do not wait on the lines. This is true but it still doesn’t ease the feeling that I should be doing something else. Something outside.

So I fired up my mom’s old laptop which I commandeered because it was just gathering dust at her house. She is extremely against any sort of technology. She would always be confounded by the random messages that would pop up asking mostly irrelevant things. It would cause her to just shut it down rather than, in her mind, potentially make a wrong choice and cause the entire computer to cease functioning. 

I decided that I would take this computer and use it for writing. Something that I have all but stopped doing. I thought that my move, the change of seasons, living on a farm, all of these things would contribute to really getting my creative juices flowing. This sadly was not the case. For a good part of the year when we moved, I just felt displaced. I have family and friends here but I came to realize that is a good start to build an entirely new life, but it is not enough. It is really only the scaffolding with none of the meaty bits. And while there is something lovely about putting on more layers and the leaves turning color and falling off, what this really leads into is what I have taken to calling, the dark ages. That period of time before the clocks spring forward and after all of the holidays are over when it feels like the sun begins to set at 3:30. When it is just dark and cold, seemingly all the time. I ended up in bed every night at 8:00. Because it felt like it was time to go to bed.

My wise friend keeps telling me to not “rush fall”. And I really get it. Really. And while I am trying to ignore the small changes that are happening, the animals cannot. While we were visiting in Hawaii for almost a month, the mice took full advantage by gnawing a hole into the cabinet that holds most of our food to help themselves to the dry beans and the oatmeal. It was quite a mess. I stuffed steel wool into the hole (thanks Mary!) and hoped for the best. But every morning there was more mouse poop in the cabinet. And I just kept using more and more steel wool to plug up any entranceways. Apparently a mouse can squeeze through a gap the width of your pinky. 

In addition to the mice in the cabinets, there were bees. I think that they are yellow jackets. They have taken up residence somewhere between the outside and the inside of that same mouse cabinet (now lovingly referred to as the pestilence cabinet). And they keep getting inside. Maybe one an hour one day. And while I typically just open the front door and let them out, they totally stress me out. I worry that many will get in at one time. I worry that I will come home and find a bunch inside. I have come to learn that they are more agitated in the afternoon between three and five or so. And it is the timeframe where I am likely to find one in the house. 

So along with trying to keep the mice out, I am also trying to keep the bees out. I figure if the mice can still get in, then the bees can as well. The pestilence cabinet is plugged with steel wool, paper towels and gorilla duct tape. I will get through a certain amount of time with no bees and feel heartened that I have plugged enough holes and cracks and then, it is not true. I am at the point where I’m certain everyone I know is tired of hearing about my bees. So today, I am going to stop talking about them. Talking about the possible plugging of the holes. The cracks. The spaces. I have come to a point where I realize that as many holes as I plug, in the agitated afternoon state, maybe it is just not possible. That no matter what I do, what materials I use, there will still be a bee. I have been reluctant to have them sprayed. For so many reasons. I am hopeful that we can come to an agreement, the bees and I.

The mice on the other hand, have been offered no such olive branch. I know that they are full of disease as is their poop. So they really, really need to go. After much patching and steel wooling, the cabinets have been baited with poison. This morning, I cleaned up more mouse poop. So we are still not airtight for mice or bees. 

And while I truly do not want to rush fall, I will be happy when the critters of summer are tamed a bit by the weather. And when pumpkin beer is widely available. Maybe I will have enough of it to make me forget about the cracks, holes and the poop. Cheers.   

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Human Touch

Today I went into the office. On the way, we stopped at the grocery store where there is a Starbucks. My son and his dad walked past the SB to pick up a breakfast sandwich. While I was on the line, one of the SB ladies told the guy who was working with them to look around the corner and asked him to take care of it. I didn’t really think of it until I had my coffee in hand and turned the corner to put the fixings in it. There was a woman, unconscious on the floor. From the looks of it, she had fallen out of her chair onto the floor. The gentleman at the other table, was so kind as to let us know that she had actually fallen out of the chair. He actually even berated the SB guy, pointing out that clearly she had fallen out of her chair. Despite the fact that he had heard her fall, seen her there, he had apparently just gone back to typing away on his keyboard.

The SB guy did check to see if she had pulse (he felt her wrist) and then told me that he was going to get his manager. I called 911. The store managers walked over while I was on the phone with the operator. She asked me if I was next to the woman and started asking me if she was breathing, if I needed to do CPR. I gave my phone to one of the managers. I started to move the woman a bit and she stirred a little. Not dead. Still breathing.

The entire time, the gentleman at the other table continued to just sit at the table. The store managers looked on. We ran into the ambulance guys as we were leaving the store. I am hopeful that they were able to help her out.

I wish I could say that I feel like I was the good guy in this incident. But I do not feel like that is true. I kind of freaked out. To be honest, I don’t know what I would have done if that woman needed CPR. And, although she looked like she may have been homeless, she also looked like she may not have been homeless. But I still did not want to do it.

In the car, my son said that I touched his back with the hand that I had touched the woman with. His dad said that I could have gotten flesh eating bacteria (I noted that she did not have any festering wounds). My coworker said that people were just incapacitated and did not know what to do. My son confessed later that he had seen her for a “millisecond out of the corner of his eye” but thought that she was “stretching out on the floor.” This left me questioning my parenting skills.

And I have been wondering all day, what would happen if the person who was unconscious was dirty. Or smelly. What if that person needed CPR? I always thought that if I passed out in public somewhere, someone would help me. But it seems that that might not be the case. I suppose I should be happy that no one took pictures of her while she was out. A low bar indeed.

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All About the Muffins

We have bunnies. I think that we are on the third litter (litter?) this year. The first only yielded two, the cutest bunny ever (Foo Foo) and the doomed black bunny who I took to the vet and could not be saved. The next batch was much bigger and some of them are strangely fluffy. The big tan male seems to be the father of them all. His name is Trump (I swear that I did not name him) because he has ugly hair. He is tan but with weird black bits, as if the tan did not entirely know what to do with the black. How to incorporate those incongruent colors. These guys have gotten a bit bigger and my son is calling them the toddler bunnies. And then we have the most recent batch. When they first come out of where they were born, they are very skittish. Any sound sends them bolting for cover. They are so small that we have taken to calling them muffins. As in, “please make sure there are no muffins under my car.” And the muffins, despite their skittishness, do not run out from under the car when it is started. They kind of just wait. I worry that I will pull out and there will be a flattened muffin there. *shudder*

What I have discovered is that baby bunnies could be just what this world is looking for. We had a guy today to come and look at the water pump. He knocked on my door and asked if I could move my car. He was an older gentleman with a John Bolton (the hawkish National Security Adviser) mustache. I grabbed my keys and went down. He was in the barn chasing baby bunnies. We had a really great conversation about said bunnies. He has a full grown one and described it an “eating” one. It’s his daughter’s. His daughter who is going to Hawaii shortly to be with her Mattituck HS graduated boyfriend who is in the Marine Corps. I told him that I knew a lot of women who had gone to Hawaii, only to be broken up with. I know, not my finest comment. He said that that is what he was worried about but had told her that they would get her a ticket to come back any time. I told him that many women that I knew had gone under the same circumstances, ended up single and then stayed. I failed to tell him that was my story.

After dinner I was sitting up on my chair amidst my plants and a truck pulled in past my place. At some point, a younger guy walked past with a big container of something strapped to his back (ala ghostbusters). He started walking purposefully somewhere but then stopped and pulled out his phone. I realized that he was taking footage of the muffins. Muscly worker guy. Baby bunnies. Stopped him in his tracks.

There is just something universally appealing about the muffins. They like to eat the little clover flowers in the grass and suck them up like spaghetti till the white tip of the flower disappears into their teeny mouths. It is the kind of thing that causes uncontrollable human cooing.

I think it is what could solve all the world’s problems. Maybe if the real John Bolton had to frolic with a roomful of muffins before engaging in any dialogue about Iran. Maybe all of the Democratic candidates should have a teeny bunny on the podium with them, feeding them clover as they answer questions about pre-existing health conditions. And if there are leaders who you can’t fathom wanting to do such a thing, ooo-ing and ah-ing over a baby bunny, well then, maybe you should think twice about supporting that leader. Baby bunnies, making the world great one meeting at a time.

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I moved to NY from Hawaii. In Hawaii, it is always tourist season. There is never a time when there are not people clamoring to visit. I suppose maybe there are more in the winter when it is cold on the mainland. Or maybe not. They are just always there.

Here. On the North Fork of Long Island, that is not the case. Here, the people who live here made it though, from all reports, a mild winter. But it was still a winter that had the sun setting so early in the day that I made my 8 hour a night sleep goal almost every night. Mostly because it was so cold and so dark that getting into bed seemed like the best choice. After what seemed like an unending amount of time, we finally sprang ahead. The clocks went ahead and it was light out later. It was what I was told a “late spring” with decidedly cool and unspring like temperatures.

Despite the cool weather, it really started to look like spring. The grass, which we had truly forgotten had ever been green, greened up. The flowering tress seemed to pop out first. All these crazy colors. Purples and pinks. The larger trees were more reticent. As if not quite believing it was time to unfurl their leaves. And then it was all green all the time. Save for the trees with the deep dark leaves. No green for them.

The bunnies had another litter? Clutch? Brood? Seven. Four black and three tan bringing to mind tasty layered beer. Some of them have overly fluffy heads which makes them seem super round. They hop about looking like teeny cotton balls. The turkeys can frequently be heard gobbling through now open windows. A noise that is ridiculously comical.

And this weekend, Memorial Day weekend, no one told me. My mom complains about the summer traffic but I typically add to it. It is the only way that I see the North Fork. But now my lens is more attuned to hers. This weekend, it is like someone flipped a switch. Or pressed a button. And boom. Instant tourist season.

When I went to pick up my CSA on Friday afternoon, there were more cars there than I had ever seen. It was the last week of spring greens and I could not figure out the pickup. It was not in the usual place. I found the sign in but could not find the veggies. I finally had to ask someone, and they had packed everything up into a single bag because they knew what it was going to be like. Friday for pau hana, a friend and I met at the local brewery to grab a beer and some dinner. There was no parking in either the regular or the overflow lot. When I went food shopping, something I do every Saturday morning, the market’s paltry produce section actually had no zucchini. Had all the visitors decided that that was the best vegetable for grilling? I briefly contemplated getting some bagels, but the line was literally out the door. Starbucks only had three hipsters ahead of me so that was not bad.

It is just something that I have to get used to. This population explosion. The slow-moving traffic. Slowing whenever a winery is looming on the horizon. The inability to make a left turn onto the main road. Cars pulled over on the one-lane-in-each-direction main road with blinkers on trying to find out where they are (we have bad phone service). I will take it along with the lesser amount of sleep in my nights. I will take it so I can sit outside. And open the windows. And watch the baby bunnies consuming grass like spaghetti strands. I’m ready.

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The calendar says that it is spring. The grass is green like spring. The trees are blooming like spring (whoever said a “riot of color” really hit the nail on the head). The perennials have pushed up (truly amazing). The wasps started building a nest on the underside of my deck right under my chair (I put the kibosh on that). And the bunnies have had babies.

We live in an area of town known for the wild domesticated bunnies. They are not wild bunnies which are appropriately camouflaged in dull brown. No, they are like bunnies that someone had as pets and then let loose into the world. They are white and black and tan. And variations of those colors. While these bunnies look like they are pets. They are not. They are wild. They gladly accept my vegetable scraps but they do not want me to get anywhere near them (except for one). They foraged all winter and mostly survived it. And then they started reproducing.

The first baby bunnies we saw were across the lawn near the big house. They would venture out from under the steps. In whites and tans. Not camouflaged at all. Standing out brilliantly against the grass. We could tell, even from the distance, that they were very cute and small. And skittish. They would bolt at any loud noise.

Then, two more showed up. Maybe from behind the barn. On our turf. One was black and the other white with tan spots. They were so small. And so cute. They were always out foraging during the day. I quickly learned that they were unaware of the dangers of remaining under a car once it started to move. The bigger ones seemed to have figured it out and would run out from under the car. Baby bunnies, not so much. Whenever I pulled out, I looked to make sure that I had not crushed one under my tires. And I don’t think that I did.

On Friday, I noticed that the little black bunny seemed off. He was foraging around in the grass. Eating and all. But there was a weird reddish patch on his side and his back leg looked kind of janky. I tried to get a closer look and one of his back legs had definitely been broken. It seemed to be facing the wrong way. But he seemed fine. And I told myself that maybe he would be. Maybe he would just be a little gimpy for the rest of his life.

Until I saw him the next day. And he did not look good. He was not moving. He looked like he was shivering a little. And his eyes were half closed. It was Saturday. I had a class that I was taking that started at 10:00. Were vets open? They were. I called the closest one. They said that they really didn’t do bunnies. They told me to take him to the vet my mom goes to. I called them. They said that I could bring him.

I was able to get him to scootch into a small box with a little coaxing. I did not even have to seal the lid of the box because he was so lethargic. When I got to the vet, they asked me if I wanted to take ownership of the bunny or surrender him as a wildlife rescue. I asked if I had to decide right then. She told me no. That the vet would call with an assessment and that I could decide. I filled out a form and went to my class. I had a mad vision of taking the bunny and giving it to my mom. Building it a hutch outside. A project.

I drove to my class and when I got there, I had a message. It was from the vet.  “Severely broken leg, bone sticking out. Abrasive type trauma. Skin missing. Deep and infected wounds. Prognosis poor. Lot of discomfort. Euthanizing most humane thing. Wonderful of you. Best course of action.” I called back and she thanked me for bringing him in. I told her that I understood. And it just made me really sad.

I wonder if I ran over the bunny. Or the neighbor. Or one of the farm vehicles. It’s hard to say. We don’t think that it was an injury from a predator. Part of me just did not want to deal with the bunny. That first day when he was gimpy and foraging. Part of me wanted the neighbor to see the bunny and deal with him. But it was meant to be me. And while it riotously looks like spring. It does not feel like spring to me. The air is still cool. I am still wearing my winter coat. And I am carrying the injured bunny around in my heart. I’m trying to feel like spring. The other baby is still fine. We just saw him. And I started calling him Foo Foo because that seems like the right name. Maybe when the weather changes for good and I can keep the windows open. Really put away the winter coat. Then maybe I can have Foo Foo in my heart instead. But for now if just feels kind of cold and black. And not like spring.

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When I moved to NY, my mom got me a PO box in the town that I thought I was going to live in. I had asked her to just check it out. She wanted to be helpful and I wanted her to feel helpful, so it was a good task. When she went to the post office and found out the price, she just went ahead and got me the box. This was fine but ultimately, I did not end up living in that town. I ended up opening a second PO box in the town that I actually live in. With two mailing addresses, it is the closest I have come to engaging in something that portends illicit activity.

Opening a new PO box is like getting someone else’s phone number. You end up with a lot of mail that does not belong to you. When it is junk, I tend to toss it but sometimes it is more than junk. Late last year I accidentally received and opened a notice to someone else that their mammogram results potentially showed something and they had to return for a follow up. Initially I thought that this was for me but then realized that it actually could not be mine. I took it immediately back to the post office. And counted my blessings that it was not mine.

Earlier this week, my phone rang and it was someone who was not really a friend of mine. She was a friend of someone else I am close to. Calls like this. Sometimes you answer. Sometimes you don’t. I wondered why she would be calling me. But then when I answered, she sounded upset. And sort of confused. She had been trying to call someone who was not me but was also named Kim. She told me that she was not having a great day. And then she told me that she had just gotten back her mammogram results and they may have found something. And she had to go back. I tried to be supportive. It was definitely an awkward conversation. Having an accidental intimate conversation was not something either of us were expecting. But it happened. She told me that she was scheduling the follow up and would be going back the next day. She told me that she was going to have to call me when she found out.

The irony of all of this is that I recently went for my mammogram. From the same place that I had received the errant result. And I was waiting for my results. I finally went to pick up my mail today. And there was something from that radiology facility. I can’t lie. I was afraid to open it. It felt like déjà vu. It felt like it was something that was going to happen because it had already happened. The day I had opened the result that was not mine, I had done it at the restaurant up the street where I was going to get an iced coffee. I was planning on doing the same thing today. I knew that I could not do that. So instead I opened it while I was waiting on the line to pick up a package before leaving the post office. And thankfully, my test was fine. The letter started out with the fact that they were “pleased to inform” me about my results. I am ridiculously thankful. And I hope that ultimately the women who received a not so great initial notice will receive a pleased to inform them of their results result.

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The City

Have you heard that it is spring? I did too. People kept saying it. And while it is true that there is way more light in the day (no more sunsetting feelings at 3:30), it is still cold. It was just frigid yesterday. And I’m not talking about my wussy Hawaii standard of weather. I got out of my car to pump gas and the way the wind was tearing through there, I thought that I might freeze to the pump handle.

Yesterday I had to head into the city. And if you live on Long Island, there is only one city, it is NYC. A giant hulking sentinel blocking the way to get off of the island (mostly true). When I was growing up New York City was a scary place. It was dirty and dangerous. When my friends and I planned a trip into the City it revolved around drinking on the train going in, trying to get someone to serve those of us who were underage in a bar and going to 42nd street to see sex workers (thanks MFM!) I remember once some of the boys went into a peep show place. And once we somehow all got served in a random Irish bar. When I was young, going to into the City meant peril. My mother was convinced that if you went to the City you would probably be killed. So this is the lens through which I have always thought of the City.

This softened a bit when I was older and would go in with a friend. We rode the subway. Do not make eye contact. Ignore everyone else on the train and pray your stop was soon. Even then the City seemed to be a foreign place to me. A place that I could not navigate. It was a place to visit. Like a tourist.

More recently we have gone in with my son. Taken him to silly themed restaurants and tourist traps (Ripley’s’ Believe it or Not). But we were tourists. And I always relied on friends to get us around. Once I was put in charge of getting us, by subway to the Museum of Natural History. And it was a success. The only time.

We have been living out on Long Island for almost a year now and I have been, very intermittently, submitting my son’s information for acting roles. It is difficult because I do not want to take him out of school for this and many of the auditions are during the week. He was being considered for a video blog for a prep testing company but did not get it. Then we sent in a video audition for a play in NYC. It was the Wizard of Oz and he ended up getting the role of the Tin Man. This theater company seems to put on numerous plays for both children and adults for the sole purpose of putting on plays. We did not have to pay the company for him to participate (tickets to the shows aside) and there are no other fees. He had to commit to coming into the City for rehearsals for three Saturdays in a row and the performance dates over the first weekend in April. I said yes. I figured that it was a short commitment and it would be good for him. For his profile and just from an experience perspective.

But it was in the City. And I had to be the adult. I had to be the navigator. I had to be the one in charge. So I did a bunch of planning. I looked at the map where the theater was and it seemed close enough for us to walk up to it. I figured that I had to find something to do while he was in rehearsal. The first week I borrowed the pass from the local library to the Museum of Modern Art. It also happened to be the St. Patrick’s Day parade so I was a bit concerned about drunk hooligans on the train. I was also concerned about getting lost. My planning for the day worked out really well. We caught an early train back, devoid of shenanigans and we were back home (half hour drive from the train station as well) by 8:30 p.m.

This weekend was week two of rehearsal. I borrowed the passes for the Intrepid Museum and enticed my HI friend who now lives in NYC, whose mom was visiting from HI, to meet me there. The pass got in six people (how much do I love the library?) It was quite fabulous. When you do not pay $33 a head, it really changes how you look at your visit. There is no desperate attempt to get everything in, but we kind of did. We leisured through the entire museum and spent plenty of time in the hands-on space for kids. It seemed appropriate for all of us (our party did include a three year old). After the museum I hoofed it back to where my son was and we found a Thai restaurant (one of the major foods we are missing in our very haole neck of the woods).

So two weekends of just me and my son and we have not had any major catastrophes and I am feeling pretty proud of myself. I have visited two very different museums for free. I have hung out with some of my Hawaii people. It’s been really good. Next week, one of my friends will be in and we may meet up with him. I can’t deny that I may cease being the adult at that time and may let him lead us around and potentially get on the subway. But I feel okay about that.

I keep telling my son that the City is just like where we live but with a lot more people. People we know live there. Their children go to school there. That he should not be afraid. That he should not feel anxious. Part of me thinks that when I am telling him this, I am also trying to convince myself. So far, it has been pretty convincing.

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