Thursday, December 29, 2016

Things That Happened in 2016


January: The big news this year was the birth of Noah Stanley Kochany Cinovskis, baby extraordinaire. He arrived at the top of 2016, January 25, six days late and after three days of fuckin' back labour that had me seriously questioning how many kids I want ("zero" no longer being an available number). I had an emergency C-section. I didn't poop for a week. The baby had trouble latching but we got him fed. It was cold but not insanely cold. So: solid B, overall.

The other big thing has been my father's recovery from his brain tumour, a metastatic melanoma that reared up three days before last Christmas. He had emergency brain surgery at the tail end of last year. The day before our baby was born, my dad started radiation therapy. My sister moved back to Ontario, quitting her job in Calgary to be here. M and I were useless and distracted with the final weeks of my pregnancy and Noah's birth. Also! David Bowie died.

In January, everything felt edgy and extremely emotional, which is basically the theme of 2016: Edgy and Extremely Emotional (E&EE).

February: I spend a lot of time thinking about moving to the forest and starting a commune. Every time I close my eyes, I'm picturing tiny houses, ringed at the edge of a field, each with a nook to sleep and a place to park a laptop, where the membrane between inside and outside is thin. This is the first time I think seriously about leaving Toronto, and the idea, in various permutations and executions, will be a motif for me this entire year. I feel so depleted, and the idea of recharging in this city seems totally impossible.

March: My parents housesit in Etobicoke and we spend a bunch of time in their white-leather living room, wondering who, exactly, decorated this house. I take the baby to the One of a Kind show and it's like going out with the Beatles in 1964. Women are elbowing each other out of the way to fawn over him. I leave with a dozen butter tarts and a newfound appreciation for personal space. I do a workout for the first time since NS was born and cry because my body feels so irrevocably unsame.

April: The days are all of the same: we sleep, sort of; we walk a lot; we eat a lot; we try to get the baby to sleep. Buds appear on trees and our jackets stay in our closets, but it feels like time out of time. Looking back at the spring, it feels like something we survived. New moms on Instagram who are seeing other people's beautiful babies and weirdly flat stomachs and fun brunches, while you have a screaming infant who doesn't sleep and who just pooped on your last clean pair of sweatpants? Take heart, you are not alone in feeling like you were sold a bill of goods. This is a tough era, the first three months. I kind of can't believe we got through it.

May: I launch The Stroller Derby, which is where I've been writing for most of the year. It's fun to have a different outlet—my mom voice, which is different from my Hipsters voice—but I also miss writing this blog, too. This year's creative output has been...compromised, shall we say.

June: Mike goes back to work. It's weird and hard to be alone with Noah all day, but it's also fun and easy, in other ways. His sleep is all over the place. Naps take so much energy to make happen that by the time Mike gets home from work, I am spent. He's also spent, because night sleep isn't much better. I miss him, but I'm also glad to have my alone time again—only now, they're snatched moments instead of hours. I spend a lot of time walking Noah in the stroller.

July: Sleep deprivation. Hard. Worse than anything. There's a moment where I go into Noah's room for the third—fourth? fifth?—time that night, and a tree taps gently on his window, and I am convinced and terrified that it's a murderer. I have panic attacks. I'm seeing things out of the corners of my eyes: a backpack in the corner transforms into a severed head. I feel utterly broken. Ultimately, we sleep train Noah, because we have to: I am really losing my mind. I feel so upset about this, though. I wanted so desperately to give him everything, to never hold myself back. But I can't give him my sanity, because he needs me to have it. I feel lonely and like my mom friends with judge me, so I get weirdly evangelical about the benefits, even if it's just to my husband and neighbour, both of whom sleep trained, too. This feels like such a dark time of the year.

August: I spend a week in Stratford, saying a slow goodbye to the place my parents lived for almost twenty years. It is time to sell that house. Five bedrooms is a lot of bedrooms for a family of two, but my siblings and I have a tendency to rotate home every now and then, and it feels sad to lose this huge house, surrounded by trees and friendly neighbours, in a small town studded with coffee shops and nice little bistros. Even though I haven't lived there in years, my parents' move feels like a real loss to me. I spend a few weeks obsessing about moving to a small town, walking the trails, working in a little shop or at a relaxed firm.

September: I start group therapy at Mt. Sinai, because my post-natal anxiety was pretty heinous. It was kind of a big shrug, if I'm honest, but it was nice to feel supported, and like I wasn't alone. Mental health issues have always been a rough area for me, but since my 20s I've been getting better at insisting on help, and refusing to feel any shame for needing it. Anyway, this was more of that.

October: We dress up like witches for Halloween and hit two separate kid parties. It feels very parental. I do some heavy emotional work with a friend with whom my relationship hit the skids right before NS was born, and it feels so hard that about seven different times I feel like saying. "Fuck it, let's not be friends any more!" but that's not the right answer. After a lot of emailing and some in-person talks, we feel more settled, but holy mother, that was hard.

November: I threw my first event, a dance party for parents and babies. I rented out Buddies in Bad Times, sold tickets, made a playlist...all the things you do when you're throwing an party. This was a prime example of "fake it 'til you make it," because I didn't even really think that hard about what I was doing; I knew if I did, I would start to second-guess myself and get imposter syndrome. So I just kind of did it. And you know what? It was awesome. I got some critiques (about hours, how to make the event friendlier to queer families, about the music), but I also got great feedback from parents who were like, "THANK YOU, I just wanted to go dancing one more time before my children graduate middle school." Also, Donald Trump won the 2016 American election, and everyone started barfing and panicking and have not stopped.

December: We host Christmas dinner. We fight a lot. We make up. We buy each other cookies. We let each other sleep in. We drink tea. We play Peggle. The baby gets his first cold. I make resolutions. I look at the baby while he nurses, half-dreaming, and I cannot even begin to tell you about all the different ways my life—my heart—has exploded and shimmered and ended and begun this past year.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Your Season of Yes: Winter 2016 Horoscopes



Aquarius: Have you read Ta-Nehisi Coates's "My President Was Black"? I'm reading it now; it's a pretty powerful look at all the ways Blackness and authorship, narrative, expectation, self, America, Trump, racism, and power intersect. The usual stuff, these days. Your soul-assignment, Aquarius, is to read the things that challenge you to be outside yourself. If you go angry, read gentle. If you skew easy, read hard. Read things that make you put the book down on the edge of the tub and stare balefully at the floor for a minute. Pile up books beside your bed, tuck them into your bag on your way to work, read after dinner instead of browsing Netflix. Be different people, for a while.

Pisces: One of my friends has this marvelous tradition of buying his friends flowers when they graduate. I love this! It's so thoughtful and sweet, but also lovely because flowers aren't something you're beholden to. You don't have to find them a spot in your kitchen or pack them the next time you move. There's something to be said for ephemeral forms of friendship, you know? Maybe it's time to do a little floating in your own relationships, Pisces. Not get too bogged down in all the stuff.

Aries: The city of Toronto installed bike lanes on Bloor Street this past year, a victory for cyclists who had been asking for the protection for...a decade? More? They went whole-hog, too: nice big plastic bollards and a wide lane for cruisers and speed demons alike. I used to avoid Bloor Street when I was biking, but now, I head towards it, confident that I can have my own slice of the road. A city-sponsored slice, at that. It's kind of an amazing feeling: free, yet insulated. What are the things that you head towards that make you feel that way, Aries? And when was the last time you made the trip?


Taurus: Ancient Icelanders had a lot of different runes, but most of them had to do with the same few basic needs: sleep, warding off enemies, calming strife, healing from injuries. I love the power and mysticism embedded in a few lines, and the ancient runes are still in use today, albeit more often as tattoos and design elements than in actual spell-casting. But wouldn't it be amazing if a few shapes, drawn in dust or blood or snow or sand, had the power to change things, even if only in a few key areas? What runic magic would you invoke, Taurus? What lines would you draw?

Gemini: Over the past few years, my husband and I have bought each other gifts of comfort and caring: bike helmets, sweatpants, cozy clothes. Slipping into something fleecy and warm at the end of a chilly winter's day can be about as good a tonic as a cold glass of water in July, or an early-morning coffee after a tossy-turny night. We often underestimate the power of simple material comfort, like fresh sheets or a favourite shirt, but they can be so powerful in creating just a little bit of softness in a hard day.

Cancer: I bought the baby a book with a finger puppet crab in the middle of it, like a little orange softy poking out of the centre. It's pretty cute, as crabs go. It frolics on the beach, plays in tide pools, naps with its family. I mean, crabs don't really "frolic" or "nap" or whatever...but sometimes it's so nice to feel like even crabs are making decisions and engaging in self-care and just, like, having a nice day, you know?

Leo: The concept of forest schools is one that just fascinates me. Are you familiar with this? Basically, you pay someone a lot of money—like, a lot of money, Montessori-preschool amounts of money—to dress your kids up in rain gear and then go hang out in the forest. Sometimes there's structure, like going to check out a beaver dam or look for mushrooms. Other times, it's self-directed play: kids hanging out with each other, figuring out how to be human beings, together, in the forest. There are no desks, no reading corners, no math lessons. It's just nature. And you know what? It makes me wish that I, too, could attend a forest school. The thought of being out in the trees, on the beach, near the dunes, next to the escarpment, wherever our forest school would be, is so goddamn appealing that I barely have the words for it.

Virgo: Time to start your Fuck Off Fund, my darlings. Whatever is coming your way is going to heavy and mysterious, knocking you right out of your shoes. You need cash money to deal with it: to take the time off work, to make the emergency move, to eat out for a week because your fridge is under a foot of water or encased in ice or something. I hate to be catastrophic, but if you don't have a FOF, you're basically waving a red flag at a bullish universe.

Libra: In the wake of the US election, I've been thinking a lot about Woman Island. Who would I invite to this femme-topia? Solange, obviously. Anjelica Huston. Octavia Butler? Kate McKinnon! The women who surround themselves with undeniable female energy, who are powerfully, undeniably, unapologetically women. I mean, I have no problem with men—they're useful, to a point—but most of them lack that vivacious verve that comes from growing up in a system that either hates you or ignores you and deciding, Fuck it, I'm going to take the wheel anyway. Woman Island, man. Invite only.

Scorpio: We are nearing the winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. Last year on the Solstice, my dad had a stroke, a brain bleed, a metastatic cancer episode, and it was so long, and so dark. He's still here—changed, yes, but present and himself—and the gift of him is all I wanted them and it's all I want now. Dark things happen in the dark, my loves. But the best thing about the Solstice is that it's as bad as it gets. Tomorrow, the day becomes longer, by seconds at first, and then hours. Darkness comes, darkness goes. We'll always have night time, and we'll always have some daylight.

Sagittarius: There comes a point, midway through every single knitting project I start, when I absolutely hate knitting. Doesn't matter if it's a pair of socks or a vest, I'm like I am having the worst time in the whole world, this is so boring and slow. And then I turn on a podcast and I keep knitting, and you know what? It continues to be boring. But at the end of it, I have whatever beautiful project I was working on, all done and blocked and tucked away in a drawer to be pulled out. And every time I pull those things out, I don't remember the tedium; I remember how damned proud I am of the finished project.

Capricorn: Death Valley is a horrible place, pretty much empirically. It's hot, it's barren, it's full of plants that want to stab you death and bugs with far too many legs. But every ten years or so, forces collide and the valley erupts in a "superbloom," a pointillist masterpiece of wildflowers. From a distance, it looks like a haze; these aren't the flashy blooms of, say, a Dutch tulip farm. This are delicate little buds, whose time only comes once in a while. If you're a fan of subtlety in your natural phenomena, make plans to be in places where tiny, hazy miracles happen every so often.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Heartbeats


A year ago, my husband and I walked with my parents beside a waterfall, working up the nerve to share our news. We hadn't written a script or talked about how we would tell them, and finally, more out of sheer nerves than anything else, M and I pulled them into a family huddle, four heads together, and whispered, "We're pregnant!"

The heart expands.

A year ago, my parents called me and told me to get M, and the two of us sat in the living room, holding hands like children, and listened as they explained that my dad's old melanoma had slipped between the healthy cells and made new homes in his lungs, in his soft places. Things would be different now.

The heart contracts.

There's an illustration that surfaces every now and then, that says, "Nothing in nature blooms all year," a reminder to go gentle on yourself in hard or fallow times. There are seasons when great wild things burst forth and everything is possible; there are seasons when the trees hold dead fingers against a gray sky and it seems that nothing will be possible again. And so it is with our bodies, with ourselves, our lives.

I am exhausted. The last year has been earthquake after earthquake until the ground beneath my feet is silt and I am drowning. My dad is sick. The birth of our son was such a trauma that I still cry when I think about it—my old dream of a big family seems impossible now. Money has been strangle-hold tight for months. I am overworked: even downtime when NS is sleeping or playing on his own is eaten up by my job. I am lonely. My family home is on the market; the farm where M and I got married will be sold next. Relationships have ebbed: starting back in November, I've been told by friends and family members that I'm mean, that I'm not grateful enough, that I don't share the conversational air, that I have shut them out.

And maybe I have. I sleep so little and I work so much. Some days, the only thing that keeps me alive is that, if I went, there would be no-one to feed the baby. It's hard to stay peppy and bright, it's hard to stay kind, it's hard to stay present. It's not all bad. There are moments of joy among the grief. But right now, it's a lot of grief.

Everything has changed. The deal I had with my parents—that they would never die—has been broken. The deal I had with my body—that it would behave and deliver—has been shredded. The deal I had with myself—that I would ask for help—has fluttered away on the wings of all the relationships I seem to have mangled. I know this all sounds so dramatic and over the top, but I'm really struggling to find good things right now. Add in the news, add in the heat, add in all the daily terrors of life.

Once, after another heartbreak season, my dad called me up and said, "Let's go to San Francisco for the weekend." I said "What?" and he said, "Come on, let's just go!" So we went to San Francisco for three days: picked over the bins at Amoeba Records, walked the Golden Gate Bridge, stopped into silly museums, watched No Country for Old Men, drank Fat Tire beer. On Saturday, we took the train under the bay and emerged in Oakland, the home of Alice Waters, of Chez Panisse, where we had dinner. But it wasn't Chez Panisse, exactly: it was the auxiliary cafe upstairs. And it wasn't dinner, exactly: we got the last seating of the night, so we sat down for a meal at nearly quarter to ten, on the cusp of the kitchen's last orders. I don't remember what we ate; I remember laughing as we ran, half-drunk, to the BART station in order to catch the last train back to the city.

Once, after another heartbreak season, I took my tiny son out in his stroller—his bright lemonade yellow stroller, so different from all the blacks and grays that I usually surround myself with—and we roamed around the city for a while, doing errands and meeting friends. On the platform of the bus station, as we waited for our ride home, I reached down absently and gently ran my fingernails up the soles of his feet. To my surprise and delight, he let out a giggle, and then a roar as I did it again. Soon, I was laughing, and he was laughing, and when I looked around the bus platform, I saw a dozen other people laughing too.

Nothing in nature blooms year-round. This week, I feel stuck and dirty and dire and alone. I know that my dad feels that way too—and my sister, and my brother, and my mom, all of whom carry this burden, and others. I am tired. I am lonely. I feel like the worst possible version of myself, and that everyone knows it.

Sometimes, when I nurse the baby, I imagine the two of us enveloped in a shimmering cocoon of white and purple light: a shower of love and safety for us. I imagine it for him, protecting him against the world, or at least softening the heartache when his own earthquakes start to roar. For now, though, I carry him over the cracks, and I hope that our shimmering love is enough to keep him safe. It's all I can do. I hope it's enough.

The heart expands, contracts, expands again.

Image by Esra Roise

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Stroller Derby


Pssst....that new writing project I've been hinting at?

It's live.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Outfits


The baby is currently wearing an olive-green onesie, a gray waffle-knit shirt that is one size too big so it looks a little slouchy, a pair of burgundy and cream crocheted booties, a bandana-bib printed with Marvel heroes, and leggings covered with cats floating in space. I have to admit, I'm a little jealous of his outfit.


I keep thinking about fashion and style. Maybe because I'm in flux—I don't really fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, and I'm not really interested in investing in a whole new wardrobe to accommodate my new, saggy belly—and maybe because I'm not really sure how I'm supposed to dress as a mom.

I know, I know: dress the way I've always dressed! But I need tanks that are loose enough to hike up over my bra when it's time to nurse, and comfy shoes for walking for hours with a stroller or a baby strapped to my chest. Necklaces are a no-fly zone, and my fingers are still too swollen for my rings (including—sniff—my wedding ring). There are emotional as well as practical considerations: everything I'm wearing (or not wearing) right now is purely functional, and it's kind of a bummer, because nothing really makes me feel like myself.

My husband, over the last few years, has started investing in these big-ticket clothing items. He bought Frye boots and a Schott leather jacket, just like every punk-rock god. He has band tee-shirts and pins and patches, denim jackets and a great haircut. And recently, when I asked him if his insides and his outsides matched, he looked at me and said, "Yeah, I think they're really starting to."

Is it superficial to want my clothes to reflect how I feel? The truth is, I don't really know how I feel. So much has been in flux over the past 12 months: my dad getting sick, gaining weight, even quitting my job. I'm starting to seriously consider moving away from Toronto, or what it means to stay. I've  thinking about going back to school. And there is, of course, that big, red-letter item: the baby, all sixty-two giggly, cat-pants-wearing centimetres of him. It's a trite observation to make, but you know, for something so small...

Even though by virtue of having birthed and cared for this boy-child, I am irrefutably a mom, I feel a bit like an imposter (albeit an imposter who hasn't slept more than three hours in a row in two months). I want to feel powerful, fierce, sexy, competent. I want to look that way, too. But right now, I look—and feel—like I'm putting on a costume. What do I wear to feel like myself when I can't pin down what motherhood means to me? What the next few years might look like? Who I want to be, and who I actually am? When I don't know what my insides are up to, how do I get my outsides to match? I mean, so far, I've been leaning heavily on sweatpants and leggings, but those can only carry a girl so far.

Maybe this will get easier and I'll find a style that makes me feel like me + baby + all the other elements of my life actually hang together. I'm starting to see things that might inform and inspire this process: Fly boots, strange linen trousers, even teething necklaces. Tall boots for weekends at my parent's farm, and hand-knit socks underneath them. Doubling down on the black and gray colour palette I've favoured for so long, with the occasional bit of whimsy to match my son's insane leggings. Hairstyles that keep the baby's grasping fingers out of harm's way and also make me feel more pulled-together than my standard-issue bun. Clothes that fit and flatter my silhouette, even if it's changed, because I've changed. Things that make me look, and feel, like myself.

Image by Rafael Mayani

Friday, March 25, 2016

Inspired Choices


For the past six years, I've worked as an administrative assistant in some capacity. It hasn't always been called that—you can also call me a producer's assistant or an office manager—but it's been basically the same job. I set up the teleconference and make sure the coffee is hot. I answer the phones and order the printer paper. I do the mail merges and track the packages. I troubleshoot the website and manage the email list. When I first started, I thought these kinds of jobs would be stepping stones to more interesting work—that if I started in the mail room, I could work my way up to senior management, the way my dad did at IBM in 1981. Turns out that this type of job only lead to more jobs just like it.

I sometimes think about what my life would be like now if I had known myself better at the age of twenty. It's impossible to predict the future, true, but the interests I have at the age of thirty-two were all there in 2004: sexuality, craftiness, writing, fashion, art, design, community, good food and drink.

And if I had known myself better then, I would have known I'd never last in those administrative assistant jobs. The longest I've ever worked anywhere has been 15 months, at the most interesting of the bunch. The shortest? Six measly months. The average time worked at a non-profit job is 18 to 24 months, which means I'm on the skinny side of the bell curve, professionally speaking. Which, given the emotional satisfaction of the mail merges and the email lists, doesn't surprise me one bit.

In the last two or three months, I've felt a tug back towards those long-standing passions. It's almost nostalgic, honestly—since NS was born, I've had lots of time, and reason, to think about the person I want to be. The person I've always been, to some extent. But I've had very little time to actually come up with a plan to become that person, let alone enact it. I have these dreamy pictures of what I could be: a crafter, an educator, a writer, a chef. But the path to making any of it happen is fuzzy, even as it feels more and more urgent.

If I had known what I wanted twelve years ago, I might have finished school in a reasonable amount of time, instead of noodling around for eight years and through two nearly-complete minors (Jewish studies and urban planning, if you're keeping score at home). I might have gone to chef's school, or dived further into crafting. If I had been more confident ten years ago, who knows where I might be as a writer? It's not wasted time, exactly. It's just time I spent on other parts of my life: meeting my husband, getting my mental health to a good place, becoming a real part of my family.

So how do I make a living at any of this? My mom suggested M and I "start a business together," which is a lovely idea until I started to think about what we would do (hops farming? Woodcut prints? Weaving? Horror movie experts?), and how we would monetize it. Mom and I went to the One Of A Kind show today, and everywhere we looked, there was something interesting. From intergalactic travel agencies to chompy mugs, hundreds of people had found their passion, found their niche within that passion, and then gone for broke. It was cool. It was inspiring. And it's something I want to do in my own life.

In eighteen years, NS might well be heading off to college, and I'll be fifty years old. It feels like a lifetime away—indeed, it's his lifetime—but I can remember eighteen years ago in my own life, and it doesn't seem that far away. And honestly? Fifty sounds young to me. I know it sounds crazy to be talking about fifty as though it's just around the corner, but I need to start thinking about those birthdays like they're coming up, because otherwise, I'm going to be a forty-eight year old administrative assistant and that's not something I want. I'm at least twenty-five years away from any kind of retirement, and I might as well spend it doing something I love. Or, at least, something that inspires and challenges me, something that changes me, something that I enjoy and that I can learn from.

Image from Bad Vibes

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Walk of Life


Despite the fact that I want to consider myself a person who loves nature and the outdoors, I am not always enthusiastic about actually being outside. I prefer to move through the world quickly, or at least as quickly as I can without being gasoline-powered. And, as much as I'm ashamed to admit it, I'm rarely one for hikes or nature walks. (Nature is just full of bugs, y'all.) I want to be a Patagonia model, ripped and muscular and ready to scale El Capitan in a pair of breathably stretchy linen technical pants; on the other hand, there is remarkably little TV in the forest. A year ago, the idea of going for a power walk just for the hell of it would have raised some puzzled eyebrows on my end. You just want to walk...around? Can't we just bike there? Or maybe get a coffee and read a magazine?

But having a baby changes things, and while NS is still in his infancy, we can't just stuff him in a pannier and bike around the city. We have to choose between transit, begging for rides, and walking. In the face of a TTC crush, or trying to work around our parent's schedules, sometimes it's just easier to lace up our comfy shoes and put one foot in front of the other.

Surprisingly, I've taken to city walking. We've done five big, multi-hour, multi-kilometre walks in the last week, mostly with NS napping in the stroller as we push him through the city. He sleeps remarkably well as we roll him over the sidewalk's cracks and bumps, and the noise of the traffic doesn't seem to bug him at all. Meanwhile, we get to chat with each other (not always possible on bikes), and pop into different little storefronts on a whim, and get a refresher course on the city we've lived in for years. Things change, block by block, and from a car or on a bike, it's not always possible to tell how.

When I lived in Stratford, we used to walk through the Dolan, a natural area bordering the cemetery, with a river and everything. Dolan walks were the sort of thing we'd do after Easter dinner, when we'd been eating for days; the ground was always muddy and the trail was halfheartedly maintained. The forest is never my favourite place to be. You never know when you're going to come across some sort of spider family reunion. But it was nice to be outside, getting our shoes wet, poking through the underbrush.

More often, we'd take family walks at Sauble Beach, which I loved, and still love. Sauble is a special place for my family: we've been there for literally generations (four now!), and the walk from our cottage up to the big bathrooms on Sixth Street is a five-times-a-week occurrence. Usually it's after dinner, as the lake is sequinned with a thousand gold and copper sparkles, and the beach is littered with other families doing the same: walking along the waterfront watching the sun go down. Sometimes, it's in the morning on a weekday, when the beach can be nearly empty. Or at night, when the wind whips up and we come back inside with our hair blown out. Powering along the sandy shore, a little buzzed on the wine we drank with our dinner, chatting about everything and nothing in particular, it's a special time.

Walking in the city is sweet, too. It's just that I miss the ionized wind coming off the water, or the deep-oxygen feeling of the forest. We are firmly inside the city—not close at all to natural features like High Park, the Don Valley, or the waterfront, where we could conceivably go and get our nature on. Ironically, we'd have to transit or drive there. And while Toronto might be "the city inside the park," as its signs boast, those parks are often micro-parks—a corner here, a roundabout there. A pocket of green tucked between two houses or behind a subway stop, not a rolling expanse where I might conceivably be afraid of an actual natural experience. Walking those parks take all of two minutes. It makes me ache sometimes for something more nature-adjacent.

But you know what they say: the grass is always greener, yadda yadda. Walking the city sidewalks is also a great thing. M wears the baby, or I push the stroller, and we explore. We're both working on losing our winter/baby/Netflix weight, and coming home with sore feet is a nice way to do that. If you had told me a year ago that walking would be such a source of physical pleasure, I would have scoffed. It's not going to get me ripped, that's for sure. But a gentle stretch towards health, before I try really getting back into shape, is so lovely. And doing it as a family? How happy we can be.