I feel like this starts off sounding like one of those “end of the year newsletters” that I’ll eventually be sending to people, but Nicole continued her weaving (looming?) class and really seems to like it!
I wish her all the luck with her fiber art. That stuff is pretty tight!
First Friday has treated us fairly well, though I follow a standard pattern:
- Have trouble parking, get grumpy
- Arrive and am amazed how uncrowded and mellow it is
- The line for nachos is brief
- Zoe yells every time I have any of her nachos
- One margarita goes right to my head
- I feel like a fun, hip parent while my kid frolics
- It gets amazingly crowded
- A little too drunk from one drink
- Buy Nicole and Zoe ice cream sandwiches, eat most of Zoe’s
- Nicole drives home while I beg her to listen to Mission of Burma
Nicole working on two vegan sammy jammies.
I read via Kottke how terrible and overpriced the mattresses business is and at the same time Nicole and I knew our terribly small mattress was nearing the end of its life. We finally ordered from Tuft and Needle (hit me up for a promo code! Save yourself some money!). I was worried we were buying a futon mattress and would be too lazy to return it and would sleep on a pile of hate and resentment every night. But it is great! And it really does ship all rolled up in an airtight bag. Item for the to-do list: buy a bed frame so I don’t feel like I’m 22/hiding out in a temporary apartment/Sid and/or Nancy.
Also, I can no longer evangelize about Tuft and Needle because everybody I know is tired of me talking about it.
Nicole was in Florida for work when Zoe came down with a stomach bug (“Don’t throw up on the new bed!”). At the same time, part of our house was having the outside painted, so half of our windows were covered up. It was manageable but not ideal. Zoe had to get a little itty bitty blood test (doesn’t have Celiac disease!). Pro tip: if you can get a live person at the lab on the phone, inquire if they actually know how to find the vein of a four year old, or papa might almost pass out/cry. Nothing a trip to Michael’s couldn’t fix.
That was all just a prelude to say that we’re reading this together. People back then really had to know how to survive and entertain themselves. Some things the family does in the book:
- Avoids getting eaten by animals
- Carves cool stuff out of wood
- Plays the fiddle at night for family entertainment
- Many people live in a tiny house and don’t seem to get on each others nerves
- Makes clothing
- So so so much maple syrup/snow candy
- Gives minimal Christmas presents
Nicole had been going on and on about this imaginary drink that sounded terrible: beer and salt and tomato juice and more salt. We went to every store/gas station trying to find them with no luck.
Nicole and her michelada.
We bought an oversized pool that Zoe likes to luxuriate in on the weekends.
2013: The Move to Alameda
We (well, Nicole) gave notice to our landlords, since I was too “maybe we shouldn’t move all our stuff to a new location”. But after much stress and worry, we were able to say goodbye to the always noisy, except when it was desolate and quiet, street where we lived in our spacious apartment for the last five, six (?), SEVEN??!! years….next to a postal hub that was always busy (at least from 4am to 5:30pm).
We had a stressful (depressing) month of apartment hunting but found a smaller but peaceful space in Alameda. My god. Why do we have so much stuff? Never move. Moving is actually really great, but for the love of Christ we need to throw everything out.
This is how looking for apartments felt:
Finally, we found a place that wasn’t in a terrible neighborhood or outrageously expensive or had some annoyingly stuffy neighbor.
Commemorative last breakfast before the move.
Moving greatly improved the quality of our everyday lives.
These photos show more light and the luxury of casually walking somewhere.
The kitchen had a view of a tree that made me feel like I was back in New England.
We are within walking distance to a bike store which is great because I got the ol’ Trek tuned up and ready for the six mile bike ride to work which was going to get me into great shape (spoiler: I gained weight).
The house gets a lot of great morning light.
Perfect light for an artist.
We are also a quick walk from the park that we used to drive to from our old place.
Alameda: a great town to ride bikes around.
“Papa, give me a haircut.”
Being denied a cupcake at 10:30am.
Zoe’s mellow 3rd birthday.
Fun fact: Zoe likes noodles.
She will also paint the hell out of any box/treasure chest item.
I turned 40 and got the best birthday card.
Getting our Memorial Day on.
We phased out the afternoon nap.
Some nights in Alameda seem so unbelievably magical.
I don’t know why she is so messy.
There is a great shave ice place near the beach. Zoe and I have a little ritual: she eats three spoonfuls of it and then we dump it out so she can play in the sand.
Man, we love us some of that painting place.
Even the sidewalks are magical!
We drove up to Pixieland so we never have to go again (calling it an “amusement park” is a little of an oversell).
Scott reveals there is going to be a new baby on the block (spoiler: it was Baby Theo).
The “Big Q-mer” is still a hit.
We watched the parade outside the fire station, so starting everyday after, while driving or walking by the fire station, Zoe would remind us of where we watched the parade and where the fire station is located.
We were also able to get into a fantastic pre-school and were able to say goodbye to Zoe’s daycare which was a little sad (emotional milestone!). Which led to a celebratory ice cream.
First day of pre-school.
We sat in the window seat at Timeless on nacho night. The nachos were great. The heat was not. Later that evening, I gave into a ridiculous case of retail associate pressure and bought an overpriced bottle of face wash that Zoe would later break in the bath (a glass bottle: what was I thinking?). The night was also significant because it was the first time I heard Nicole’s admiration of Variance Objects.
Nicole set up a make your own pizza station and it was the greatest night of my life.
We went mini golfing on the hottest day of the year.
Nicole’s hair: looking fantastic, as usual.
The backyard swimming pool.
A mid-September’s trip to the beach.
We traveled to Baltimore because Zoe was asked to be in a wedding and Nicole had to work in NYC, so we rolled some free airfare/hotel into a mini-vacation.
Stopped by The House of Kush for some vegan soul food.
And Sticky Fingers where I ordered the worst thing on the menu.
(Pins + her hands)
SHE IS JUST THE SWEETEST. So well behaved, so charming, so beautiful. She danced with everybody at the wedding all night.
I got to drive in NYC for ten minutes, which wasn’t cool at all, and then see my friend Dina, which was very cool.
Zoe sleeping on a plane photos are my new favorite thing.
The season of pumpkins, which is the gateway to the start of the best time of year.
The Family Costume
And then Nicole made history. She completely assembled a Tell-Tale Heart for Zoe, HAND STITCHED a raven’s costume for herself, and told me what to buy to complete my Edgar Allan Poe costume.
(photo credit: Carl DeTorres and his fancy camera)
The long, hot walk back because it is always 90 degrees in October.
Handing out candy after hitting the town.
“I’m holding hands with mama.”
I switched to a safety razor.
Thanksgiving menu planning.
Me showing Zoe what I was thankful for.
We made veggie pot pies, which are, bite for bite, the best.
I spend a lot of my time worrying about Zoe growing old and being embarrassed of me or wanting nothing to do with me, and I’ll inevitably say something when she asks for the keys to our decrepit Mazda like “when you were three, your favorite thing to do on a Friday night was sit with papa on the floor and play ‘Papa is so funny.’” Anyhow, with her hair all flat ironed, she looks fifteen.
Pretty much what I do all day.
Our first Christmas in the new house.
Zoe and Nicole painted a me ornament!
Fuck gingerbread houses,man. For real.
Teresa turned my lame grandpa joke into a memorable and touching gift.
With the (not as good) Santa.
Cartel: was once my happy place. Now I’m not so sure.
Green: my happy place.
Grandma’s regular flour was rancid (“Use by 1997″), so I hope Santa enjoyed the sour sour cookies we made him.
Potential new favorite place in Arizona.
Drove through terrifying rain to see some pretty outstanding dinosaurs. Zoe was interested for about 3 minutes.
Picking wet leaves outside the dinosaur exhibit.
Oh! I nearly forgot: I grew a beard.
Baby Theo: A little over a month old.
Zoe’s 4th Birthday
We spent a little time up where we got engaged.
I turned 41. Zoe made me another adorable card.
I decided to cut down on the carbs (again) by immediately making a lot of bagels from scratch. What’s that old adage? “Nothing tastes as good as knowing you have 40 bagels waiting for you when you get out of the shower.”
I guess that’s all the update I had patience for. Tune back in for May-present two years from now!
Your pal Ross
Like everything that isn’t watching Netflix in bed, keeping a relevant blog seems very difficult. (The last entry detailing any of the small events with Zoe was from 2012). The draft of this and part two sat in WordPress limbo for more than a month. (Putting thoughts together is hard. Managing photos across various social media outlets and cloud storage units and resizing them and is
harder tedious.) Now, I’m just haunted by the fear that… No. I dare not write it. It’s too…Dad. Ok dear reader: I will tell you that the inevitable transformation of Zoe from helpless baby to a person not needing her papa anymore is a pain that I’m already anticipating. I have some years and years to prepare for it — I have to constantly tell myself to live in the moment — but I feel like I have to pay into the 401k of misery by diligently contributing a few moments of planned future sadness each week. I blame some of this perfectly human and natural emotion on looking through all these older photos of Zoe and seeing time pass, though most of the moments are very sweet.
Fun fact: It has long been known by close friends that nothing makes me tear up more than those commercials when the passage of time is shown to be fleeting and life…precious. (I can’t find the exact flavor of ad that does it, but it goes something like:
- young, beautiful couple shown during courship; they share much laughter
- couple now getting married, with only their happy future in front of them
- baby being born to ecstatic and still beautiful parents
- parents comically freaking out because they don’t know how to raise a child (maybe there is a pot boiling over on the stove, too)
- beautiful child graduating from high school/parents now older and fatter
- their child is now a parent, shows baby to now quite aged but still handsome grandparents
- old people enjoying their retirement/on a cruise
EXTREMELY LONG, IMAGE-HEAVY UPDATE OF THE LAST TWO YEARS MOSTLY FEATURING PHOTOS OF ZOE.)
Back to October 2012
My god. I don’t even know. We moved from the apartment that was next door to the very loud postal processing branch. No wait: I have to go back even more. After The Rucker wedding (again, this) we drove to see friends in LA and went to Handsome Coffee and hiked to the observatory and went to Veggie Grill.
LA seems so large and unreal to me. I felt like Randolph Carter dreaming about The Dreamlands again.
Nothing will ever taste as good as the first time I dined at Veggie Grill.
Soon after this trip, Nicole had an engagement in Providence and hey! my dad lives in Providence, so why don’t we all go? It will be October and a very lovely time to visit Rhode Island. I had an ulterior motive: to go to Papa Gino’s and see my favorite old library.
Zoe is a pretty good flier. This was our longest flight. She was a champ for getting up so early for a very early flight.
She’s such a sweet baby. Maybe I’m just grateful that she’s so well behaved when we’re all crammed into a tiny space with a bunch of strangers and hurtling really fast and so far away from the surface of the earth.
A layover in Chicago to prolong the flight time.
Finally landed, carseat installed in the rental car, and before the hotel: a quick stop at Papa Gino’s.
It was ok.
Meeting Grandpa Stan and Aunt Melissa was very special.
October in RI means it isn’t 95 degrees when we pick pumpkins.
Went to a beloved childhood restaurant which will now have to remain just a special memory.
My old man. (Barrington was and would be a fine place to raise a child.)
I felt like my dad would like the Hi-Tec-C.
It’s attached to a cemetery! When I was a little kid, this creepy old library and attached cemetery was just the best and set the standard for cozy, quaint libraries. It was moved to a new, modern building about one hundred feet away when I was 14.
I feel like Normandy Sound is now Celebration Sounds. And if so, Mission of Burma recorded Vs. in the next town over from where I grew up. This fact always meant a lot to me.
Kicking it in the hotel Starbucks.
Barrington was lovely and pristine and had the same large amount of trees that I remember. Providence reminded me of being impossibly young and getting by on a $11/hr coffee shop job (my god. I think this had just come out).
Soon after returning, Nicole made our costumes in a super heroic effort: a rainbow (Zoe), a storm cloud (me),
a rain cloud and rain (Nicole). 2013 marked the last year that Zoe would stay in on Halloween night.
Bonus park photo
Bonus Mama “sleeping in” photo
We saw Yo Gabba Gabba! live and I teared up because my beautiful daughter, wearing the Roger Miller-style hearing protectors, went to her first concert and I could feel new synapses being formed and could hear a conversation happening in the future like: “Yo Gabba Gabba! was, like, my first concert. But, like, my first real real concert was [name of some shitty band] that I saw when I was 14.”
Sassy in the rain.
Nicole and I got coffee tattoos because getting a buddy tattoo around Thanksgiving should be a motherfucking tradition.
A Veggie Grill opened in San Jose which makes it just a little bit more than I want to drive for a kale salad, but the mall there makes me feel like I’m in Arizona, which was an unexpected but appreciated treat.
The Christmas Season
Best time of year!
We made ornaments from salt dough which had to have been something we saw on Buzzfeed. They were a disaster.
One of our favorite “activities” is watching Zoe eat pizza. Um, I have a Facebook photo album dedicated to it, so you know I’m for real. These nights (First Friday) were my favorite in our Oakland apartment because it was just down the street and it made the neighborhood seem energized and fun, not a desolate, bleak wasteland which it usually was.
We met Santa.
We went to Arizona.
“Let’s buy a planetarium for Zoe’s room that arrives in kit form, made up of 400 pieces and, two years later, we still haven’t put it together.”
We made stuffed artichokes on Christmas eve, which is my favorite thing to do on my favorite night of the year.
Zoe acquired a “big kumer” from Santa.
Eating (gluten-free) pizza with Grandma.
Took my first trip to Tuscon. Hotel Congress did not appear to be haunted. There was an immense amount of street noise and I was unable to sleep and instead read about the making of The Blues Brothers.
We kept driving south, and went to Bisbee. T’was a cute little European town tucked just above the souther border. Also: they
have had a vegan restaurant there. I’m sad that it closed, but the world was too strange a place for something as beautiful as delicious vegan Mexican food.
Finally made it to Pizzeria Bianco
We had made plans to go here for the last 8 years, but they are always closed when we’re in Arizona. Staying an extra week really paid off.
Painting at the Children’s Museum
Sometimes (i.e. every year), I feel like a man could really find himself out under the spacious skies of Arizona.
I broke this up into a second part, for obvious reasons. Onward to 2014!
Fantastic but a bit depressing mini-doc about a courtroom sketch artist.
It’s not rare, it’s everywhere.
I hadn’t heard much about The Pete Holmes show until New Material Seinfeld #3 caused a little buzz. Here are the collected installments so I can easily watch them in my car before work. Every second works for me at the deepest levels possible.
This is so awesomely beautiful, I didn’t even mind the music.
I’m proud to report that I rode my bike to work whenever possible. It was pretty amazing and fun, especially the more caffeinated PM rides. I only suffered two flat tires for 500 miles ridden. I didn’t get much weekend riding in, and the commute was mostly flat, slow & steady, but this is about 450 more miles ridden than last year.
I didn’t slim down at all and this makes me think that just riding 12 miles two or three times a week isn’t license to “eat whatever I want” which makes me very very sad. Portion control is bullshit, but I think it’s all my metabolism will understand.
I’m sure I can get this weight and general classification as “obese” down as long as I stay away from delicious delicious gluten and it’s equally dangerous impostors. Also: not eating second dinner. Or having a post breakfast bagel. Or a heavenly burrito filled with rice and dreams.
I found two pens I like quite a bit:
The Pilot MultiBall Liquid Ink Pen is a fantastic fine-tip. If I can find a refill for them, I will gladly put one in my The Apollo Technical Pen.
The Uni-ball Signo Broad UM-153 Gel Ink Pen puts down a huge amount of ink which makes it a little inappropriate for everyday note taking.
I seem to use Evernote more than actually writing things down at work, though.
After upgrading computers and hard drives, I decided to move a huge chunk of music to the slick Amazon Player, which doesn’t easily allow for sending to last.fm, so these stats are somewhat accurate. My listening habits are born out of laziness: items on my default Rdio playlist tend to get repeated over and over while I try to find some new music that is tolerable.
A tale of a man who obsessively made something that nobody really cared about much much better. (“…David Imus worked alone on his map seven days a week for two full years. Nearly 6,000 hours in total.”) His map is fanstastic.
I liked it. Zoe said it was “different” from our other breakfast scrambles and left it mostly uneaten. Nicole was quiet which means she hates any form of garbanzo beans that aren’t in Indian food.
There are nights when a kale salad is delicious. Last night was not one of those evenings. Recipe fail on my end: the squash was mushy, the lentils were cold, clumpy, and depressing. The dressing wasn’t tangy enough. We ate a Amy’s soy pizza after the salad was rejected by everybody.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
These were out of the park, 100% grande hit. Wish I had some now. Should I make some now? I probably should.
So I just did. And they were great again.
December 9, 2013
Zoe was still sick, my phone stopped working, work was stressing me out, so I made bran muffins. Nicole thought they were mushy on the bottom, and they could have been, but I stress/depressed ate 10 of them. Spoiler alert: I had a normal bowel movement the next day.