ARCHIVE FOR September, 2012

Westchester Life2

Posted by Deirdre // 09-14-2012


This started as just a link to Westchester Life’s latest post — a day trip to Upper Westchester — but it’s turned into an overall run-down of this awesome blog. We’ve featured the tips from its creator, the lovely Sarah O’Grady on our Hastings and Mt. Kisco Day Trips. We like that she has her struggles with the burbs and New York in general, but rather than just complain on social media, she has been doing amazing things for her town, like starting an Occupy Main Street and getting everyone out for a Summer Sunday bash that she built from the ground up. Both were to try to keep small businesses afloat in this economy, which of course helps your village seem more like a village and less like a strip-mall. I also like her slap-in-the-face reality of date night in the ‘burbs, which is only slightly off of what it is here.

Some of the “secret” spots from Westchester LIfe

She has also been working with Westchester County Tourism and The New York Mom (who knew?!) on a “Meet me in Westchester” Series, which you should definitely pour over if you’re considering the county. Part 3, posted today, is that day trip to Upper Westchester – Chappaqua, Bedford and Mt. Kisco. Be sure to check out Part 1 and 2, as well as other Westchester loves around her site, or secrets as she calls them. And you know what? I guess I should just add her to the Links I Love section, because she’s the kind of gal you’d want to follow, especially if Westchester is on your list or if you already live there! Really if you’re in or considering the burbs at all, take a gander. And let us know what you think!

UPDATE: Is it us? Seems that Westchester Life has gotten the ‘beyond’ bug and is picking up and moving to Raleigh! Check out her post announcing the big news.


The Pleasant Mom Leaves Pleasantville7

Posted by Deirdre // 09-10-2012


By Bklyn or Beyond Contributor Maggie Kemper

And for my next move…the turtle pulls a rabbit out of her hat.

Let’s see, where did we leave off? Oh yes, I was a turtle happily carrying her home on her back, finding inner serenity wherever my journey took me – be it the gritty energy of Carroll Gardens or the nostalgic ease of a tiny town in Westchester County.

My journey has taken a sharp left turn.

Having bought a house and spent five years creating a life in Pleasantville, my husband and I decided to move to his hometown of Seattle –  mere weeks before my oldest was to enter Kindergarten and finally take advantage of all that property tax we had painfully forked over year after year.

I guess in the end a move from Brooklyn to Westchester wasn’t “beyond” enough for me. I’m a mover, it’s how I grew up. When I was a kid, my favorite film was Running on Empty. The only thing that could have topped moving every three to four years, like we did, would have been running from the law under cover of night (with River Phoenix) These past five years in Pville mark the longest I have ever lived in any single abode.

Truck as turtle/turtle as truck

I thought attaining homeownership would scratch that itch forever but it turns out, when presented with the opportunity for change, my body automatically breaks out into hives (both real and metaphoric), and I could not rid myself of our beloved home fast enough.

Hubs had to be the turtle this time, hauling everything we owned that fit into a sixteen-foot rental truck and making his way, slow and steady, from sea to shining sea.

For myself and our two young daughters, I booked three one-way plane tickets, which proved quite a thrill in and of itself. Other small, unexpected delights: changing my homepage, unsubscribing from NYC-based emails that always taunted me with events I could no longer reasonably attend, and ridding ourselves of 40% of our belongings.

Two weeks ago I landed with my girls in the middle of the night in a city I have only ever visited twice before. We had no home, no schools, no cars – just the graciousness of friends and family, two suitcases, and a file folder containing every essential document of our lives, which, in a total mom-move, I clutched obviously to my breast.

Within forty-eight hours I had secured exciting schooling and cute shelter.

With no one to survey and no time to dilly dally, decision-making became my drug of choice and my gut served as my spirit guide. For the first time in a long time, I looked for validation after the fact, and the trees, the water, the mountains, all told me I was right, right, right.

Adrenalin was pumping. The only two needs I missed were a shower and a preschool.  But as soon as I sniffed those out, I turned in the panic for chi and took care of the latter in half the time of the former.

Oh, and can I tell you the absolute utter joy I felt signing a one-year lease in five minutes in a charming coffee shop a block from my new home that I had decided on ten minutes prior? I felt twenty-five again signing that rental agreement  I felt like, well, I was back in Brooklyn.

It helps that I am in one of the most beautiful places in the country during its most glorious month of the year, amongst some of the nicest people you can imagine. Seriously I’ve had to dial back the NY intensity on more than one occasion.

The teller at the bank examined my ID and asked me how long I was in town. I barked back, “I am entitled to my money no matter which branch I use!” Undeterred, he forged onward with the transaction. It was only after he introduced me to everyone behind the counter that I realized he was simply trying to be nice.

Seattle is nice. My husband’s new favorite activity is driving us around from one jaw-dropping sight to the next, seeing if he can illicit bigger sighs from me and the girls with each one. It doesn’t seem real: the white majestic mountains against the pure blue skies, the exotic flora bursting from every city yard, or the simple fact that I get to live here.

And city life? I did not realize how much I had missed it. The daily encounters with the off-beat, the tiny commute, the bounty of interesting food and drink, the brushing up against people, myriads of people, people you don’t know, who just smile, and move on, and you just admire their dog or their summer scarf and you too just keep going, going, going.

Girls on the beach, mountains as back-drop

The kids are doing great.  Sure my three-year-old probably believes that we are on some sort of extended vacation. Come to think of it, that’s not a bad way to live, so who am I to burst her bubble?  My five-year-old, Alice, seems to have inherited my wanderlust.  Just a few days after we broke the news to her of the move back in Pville, she announced, in a tone that would make the original Alice proud:  “I’m bored of this world.  I want to go to the new one.”

I don’t like the packing. I don’t like the unpacking. I’m really dreading all the address changes and missed mail. New doctors, new dentists, new dermatologist, oh my.

Mostly I do not enjoy saying goodbye to cherished friends. I have shed more tears in the past month than I care to mention. But in her early record “Making Time,”  Gillian Welch sums it up perfectly for me: “Oh ain’t it hard to go? But it’s so much harder standin’ still.”

Growing up, my dad had a favorite ironic phrase he would utter routinely once he had finally gotten the whole family out of the house:  “Off like a herd of turtles.”  It did take awhile for all six of us to ever get into the car. But looking back, we somehow ended up covering a lot of ground.



Where the Cool Kids At?17

Posted by Deirdre // 09-01-2012


I’m starting this blog post – I know there is no way I’ll finish it – at the local play space in Coastal Connecticut, where we’re spending much of the rest of the summer at my mother’s house. It’s pouring rain and we’re here for the second time this week. It’s great because there is room for the boys to RUN and climb and jump and scamper and bounce — all things my two need daily, or they begin to drive me and each other crazy. There’s also a great old school game room attached that doesn’t have a video game in sight – it’s air hockey, foosball and skeeball and stuff like that.

It’s so weird that a place like this exists here, where pretty much everyone has a yard with some sort of swing set, but I guess it’s for rainy days like today. And yes, they have wifi, so many parents are on iPads or just sitting there glued to their phones, occasionally looking up to check on their kids. It’s sort of a godsend.

Foosball at the playspace

And yet here I am feeling weird and like I don’t belong, like these people are not my kind. The style is either slightly schlubby or extremely preppy. Let me back up for a minute and say that I am super hormonal and have been with my kids and no husband for four days and 3 nights – I am not someone anyone would want to be a part of today. And anyone looking at me would describe me as extremely schlubby, I’m sure. I may be over reacting. I haven’t actually spoken to these people. But still, I have had this feeling before out here. When we had free babysitting and could go anywhere, yet everywhere we went felt like a waste of time and money. It’s the NYC curse – no one and no where can measure up in some respects. It’s that trade-off thing again.

It’s now about a month later and I’m finally revisiting this post (I told you I wouldn’t finish it). Needless to say, the weather has greatly improved since the water-logged few weeks in July, and I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy more than half of the summer as a beyond-er, no suffering through hot and humid city streets. It’s weird to read this after we’ve had such an amazing month, to recognize those strong feelings I had early on in our vacation. I no longer feel like a total foreigner here, but I guess it is different when we’re frolicking on the beach or savoring the neighbor’s pool instead of trying to find somewhere to wait out the rain. I also think it took me some time to let some of my New York armor down. And we did find some true gems, but more on that in another post. I’ll let what I wrote above live as a semi-bitchy New Yorker rant, ’cause sometimes those are just necessary.

image by @vanriperarchives

We’re heading back to Brooklyn tomorrow and I already myself bracing for the onslaught of sights and sounds (and smells) I haven’t had to deal with in a while. Yet, I’m kind of ready. I’m dying — DY-ING — for a good latte. I got an email from franny’s today that they’re open on Labor Day and I felt like I’d heard from a friend I hadn’t spoken to the whole summer.  I started the NY Magazine story about Jane Pratt, and learned that she hired a drug addict as her health and beauty editor at xoJane. This does not happen in Coastal Connecticut. Or even San Francisco. I’m also reading Motherland by Amy Sohn — a parent friend — about Park Slopers who have affairs and do things like birth a child fathered by someone she met at the Co-op without her husband realizing it’s not his kid. I’m not saying drugs and affairs are a good thing, but a little edge in my vicinity — even if I’m actually just ending up at Bareburger with the kids and having an IPA — is what I’m craving.

The summer is coming to a close. I’m also hormonal again. So stay tuned for the “it was bliss and I can’t believe we’re back” post. This one is all jaded, obnoxious, Brooklyn is better and there’s nothing else like it.