Musings + Essays

Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 136: Adventure Vs. Misadventure.

By: Jen Shoop

My Latest Snag: The New Apartment Gear.

I’ve been pouring all of my attention (and money) into outfitting our new apartment, and you can see a full roundup of the highest priority purchases here. I am still lingering over a few items on that list because I want to make sure everything fits appropriately into the spaces we’ve envisioned them for and meets our needs. Per many of the commenters on that post, it’s a good idea to live in an apartment and get to know your needs and wants before running out to buy. (Example: I didn’t know I’d need a chair in Hill’s nursery for some reason…living here without one is very annoying.) Plus, I want to make sure I’ve done thorough research and found pieces we truly love — not just items that “will do” for now. I am going to spend some time more thoroughly seeking out a bookcase for mini’s room, for example. The one from PBK is lovely and straight-forward but I want to make sure I’m not overlooking other beautiful options from smaller stores.

You’re Sooooo Popular: My Favorite Jeans.

The most popular items on the blog this past week:

+My absolute favorite (most flattering) jeans.

+This darling chunky cardigan.

+This refined dog bowl set. (More great dog gear here — and thanks to the Magpie who suggested this durable chew-toy, which is now in Tilly’s paws.)

+My new favorite brand for household cleaning/soap/etc.

+A precious keepsake I had engraved with mini’s initials and birth date.

+Chic dog bed.

+My favorite shampoo and conditioner.

#Turbothot: Adventure/Misadventure.

On Wednesday, I traipsed down to pick mini up from school in a monsoon. I had not dressed for the occasion and had not prepared mini for it, either — I’d left her rainboots and the rain cover to her stroller at home in my haste. By the time I got to her school, I was shivering and sopping wet and a blister had started to form on my heel from the sticky wetness of New York City rain and grime that was invading my shoe.

Mini was delighted by the inclement weather, but as we walked over a slick sidewalk grate, she slipped and soaked her pants. And then the rain didn’t feel quite as magical as I hugged her and smoothed down her hair in the downpour.

I made a game-time decision to jump in a cab and — mercifully! — found one within a block or so.

“Good choice,” I told myself as the rain came down in sheets. I shuddered thinking about descending to the subway on those slippery rainy steps, with a drenched stroller over my shoulder and a curious, occasionally idling, toddler at my side.

But then we sat in traffic. I kept refreshing the Google Maps app, which continued to say — despite the passage of time — that the ride home was an estimated 28 minutes. Now, 28 minutes is a lot of time for a cab uptown, but it usually takes us about 30 minutes to get home via the subway, so I reasoned — eh. But as ten, then fifteen, then twenty minutes passed and the app continued to say we were “28 minutes away” and we’d only gone two avenues over and a handful of city blocks north, I started to get cagey. Mini had eaten all her snacks and was claiming she was still hungry and I felt an imaginary countdown start above her head — how long until she’d need to use the toilet?

I made another game-time decision to ask to get out of the cab and walk to the subway after all. The rain had let up and I calculated that we’d be about a twenty minute schlep from home versus the indeterminate amount of time we’d be stalled in traffic on 10th Avenue.

But then it was difficult for the cabbie to navigate to Penn Station — the closest subway stop at that point — and so I just said, “Let us out! We’ll walk!” $30 and virtually no progress later, I unfolded the stroller and walked through the drizzle to Penn Station.

Penn Station is what I imagine hell to look like. It is dirty, crowded, and usually surrounded by unsavory characters. On this particular approach, we were solicited by a shady man shilling some kind of religious paraphernalia and then boxed out by two bros using the most profane language I’ve heard in a long time. And it’s also kind of impossible to find your way around that area because there are about 3498 entrances to the station — and a lot of steps. But I grit my teeth and carried mini down two flights of stairs into the bowels of hell, through the subway turnstiles (and there was no attendant to flag us through the service entry, so I had to collapse the stroller, kick it across the wet floor under the turnstile, and then lug mini and our miscellaneous bags through), and then walked what felt like a city mile and yet another flight of stairs to get to the proper platform. And then the train was horribly delayed.

TL;DR: I left my apartment at 2:35 so I’d be early for her 3:10 dismissal. I got home at 4:45. It took me two entire hours to pick her up from school.

I was…

Not happy.

And there was a brief moment when I was carrying mini back up a set of stairs to get to the platform when I almost burst into tears as flocks of people tore down the stairs, knocking into me.


I didn’t. For three reasons.

  1. The New Yorker in me pushed back and stood her ground.
  2. Mini needs to see the best in me.
  3. Most importantly: mini was having a blast.

While I was groaning at the traffic in the cab, she was pointing out all the colors of the trucks and cars around us, and noting the raindrops splattered across the moon roof of the taxi.

“That’s a moon roof,” I’d told her.

Five minutes later: “But I don’t see the moon, mama.”

As I had been refreshing the app and rolling my eyes, she had been quietly interrogating her surroundings, attempting to reconcile the words “moon” and “roof” despite seeing neither in front of her.

While I was heaving sighs as we walked towards Penn Station, I heard her sweet little voice:

“This old man, he played two, he played knick-knack on my shoe!…”

When I was huffing and puffing up the stairs to the train:

“One, two, freeeee, four, five, six — ” her little voice counting each step. And when we reached the top: “We did it!!!!” in a sing-song voice of achievement.

I am humbled by her.

At one point, mid-trip, I had the wherewithal to say:

“What an adventure, huh?”

And it was almost more for myself than for her. Because I wonder at what point in my life I went from being able to marvel at raindrops to scowling at the misfortune of a botched commute. Of course, we can’t be Pollyanna all the time, and sometimes we need to just get somewhere, and any mom knows that it’s risky to tamper with post-school play/dinner/bath/bed routines, and Penn Station is my least favorite place on earth — but this excursion was a good reminder of the fine line between finding ourselves in adventure versus misadventure, and the role that a positive outlook can play. Following my daughter’s lead, I’m going to be aiming for the former from now on.

Post-Scripts: Olive Kitteridge Sequel.

+A sequel to Olive Kitteridge just came out!

+Love this blouse in both colorways — the white is reminiscent of the Doen blouse I just wrote about!

+You know I can’t say no to a bow — in hot pink no less.

+Cute flannel pinafore.

+Such a good price for a cookbook stand that looks so elegant!

+Into the look of a dining chair like this, but concerned about its practicality in our child-filled home.

+A really good price on the chic-est Oscar earrings.

+These slippers!!!

+Such a fun top.

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6 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 136: Adventure Vs. Misadventure.

  1. Oh my, I can relate to you re: Penn Station … and I have to travel through it a ton, on my near-monthly trips to NYC (Amtrak) or passing through to go to my parents’ (NJTransit). Uuuuugh.

    I love that mini helped you shift your perspective on what was surely a trying afternoon. And I haven’t bought anything from J.Crew in months, but I really love those bow flats! <3 xx

  2. As you are working on decking out your new apartment…any art finds?? I am persistently unsatisfied with what to put over my desk on a big swath of wall between two bookcases. Would love your recs!!

  3. Those dining chairs are beautiful! My dining room is from RH Modern and they custom made my chairs with a fabric that can be scrubbed (re: little people). I have had them for 3 years now and they still look new!

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