Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hard lessons on services



The bad news: The movers are not even picking up our stuff from the NJ warehouse until this Wednesday. No one at Moishe's called me to tell this news, despite a guarantee that our stuff would be here no later than August 12th. I had to call several times to find out what was going on, and apparently there was a "truck delay" and so our stuff is now expected to arrive next weekend. Word to anyone considering using Moishe's movers: Don't.

The good news: I found my camera's USB cord. I had packed it after all.

More good news: Harlan, the kid who used to refuse to get close to the ocean or step foot in a strange bathtub is completely bursurk for swimming pools.
This is him in the kiddie pool in our condo complex. As you can see Harlan is struggling to break free of his daddy's arms so that he can run into the adult pool. He has no fear of drowning obviously, and I'm going to have to buy a life jacket for him (we borrowed one for Muskoka for the boat rides) because he thinks that a very fun game is played by running into the adult pool at top speed while I scream WAIT FOR MAMA!!!!! He runs down the steps as I clutch his arms and proceeds to plunge face down into the water so he can blow bubbles (with his mouth wide open somehow). Then he picks his face up and laughs and blows more bubbles and then enjoys holding my shoulder while I float him around the pool. I've got to get this kid some swimming lessons A.S.A.P.

So far the pools are shaded and comfortable in the evenings when the blazing heat begins to let up and the chicaedas aren't buzzing quite so loudly from the trees. We go down to the pool after dinner and Harlan plays and swims for a good hour and a half before coming up and going to bed. It's even more ideal than I had imagined to end up here instead of in a house, because for right now pools are Harlan's favorite place to be. We went on Sunday to a near by pool over at Little Stacy park and Harlan spent two and a half hours in the pool, along with me and several other toddlers and their parents. We met some great people who reminded me of my friends in Ft. Greene, and I felt releived that we had decided to move to this neighborhood.

More bad news: We hired a guy off of Craig's List to scrape the popcorn surface off of our ceilings and to paint them white. We thought it would be a great opportunity to take care of all the renovations we want before the movers arrive. Good old Clint arrived and seemed like he knew exactly what he was doing (although it was a bit hard to tell because he really talks like the King of the Hill guy who no one can understand; A super sloppy southern accent mixed with a mumble and delivered at top speed). He promised to tape off all the walls and cover the floors with plastic so nothing would get wet or damaged. He promised to be finished in two days. At the end of his second day Joe checked out the progress. I don't even want to go into too much detail because it just makes me upset, but let's just say that the ceilings look like cottage cheese in the midst of patches of flat cement, with totally shredded up edges. Clint said he wasn't finished and would be back the following day to clean it up and smooth it all out. The next day he did not show up and he did not answer his phone. We assumed he realized the job could not be remedied and so that was that. The following day I got a call from his wife, explaining that Clint was in jail, but wanted us to know that he was coming to finish the job when he got out. "But it's not his fault. You see this guy owes us money...." I cut her off and said I didn't care because he was not welcome back. As if the crappy ceilings weren't enough, he never properly covered the floors and all of the wood was now buckling around the edges, ruined from being covered in water that was not cleaned up. I had to spend hours removing the scraped cement and paint from the floors as well as our freshly painted walls. The floors will need to be replaced if I ever want to sell the place. Lesson learned: Word of mouth is always the better way to go when hiring someone to move your stuff or work on your house.

The good news: One thing I love about Austin is the access to great yard sales. So far I scored a bunch of small things, but one coup was this rocking horse ($10):



I also see that there is tons of stuff for sale on Craigslist that would never go for so cheap in NYC. I wanted to get a Radio Flyer no-pedal trike for Harlan and I scored one for $10:


So far these two toys keep him endlessly entertained in our almost-empty apartment.

More good news: The crafty business community here is a busslin'. I knew this already through my pal Jen Arnston, but it's great to start meeting other women doing what I have been trying to do for a while now (selling handmade items). I think that Jen and I may share a booth this November at the Stitch craft bazaar and fashion show. I better turn up the volume as soon as my stuff arrives and get cracking to make sure I have enough stock.

More bad news: Getting your kid into "the right" preschool is just as much of an ordeal here as it is in NYC. There are apparently more toddlers than there are cool/prestigious/right-minded pre-schools and so parents here place their kids on waiting lists as soon as they are pregnant. I'm going to be persistent though, and see what I can do because I have a feeling where there is a will there is a way, and Harlan really needs to start spending time without me for a few hours a week (both for his own sake and mine). Plus this way when I go back to work he can go full-time and it won't be traumatic for him.

More good news: The price of childcare here is drastically less than it is NYC. This goes in accordance with all the other wages here, but the point is that even on a public school teacher's salary, you can send your kid to a prestigious daycare or preschool and still have enough left over to live on. We've only been down here a couple of weeks, but already all the stress caused by living in Brooklyn without being rich has disappeared. Suddenly I'm just like everyone else: I don't have a nanny or a housekeeper and I get to spend time with my husband and my friend's husbands (I met some new friends we were invited to go to a pool at the Elk's club in the afternoon with their husbands, because they weren't working jobs that required twelve hour days. What an oddity!)

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking anyone who has the luxury to work a job that pays enough to hire a nanny or a housekeeper, but when most of the people around you live in this world you constantly feel like what you are doing will just never be enough and your child will go to a crappy public school with no toilet paper in the bathrooms (I've read too much Jonothan Kozol) because you couldn't afford to send him to pre-school, and he will end up in a gang and have to scrape ceilings for a living while you spend your old age in a welfare hotel because you never saved enough to move to Florida with all of your friends.

9 comments:

futuregirl said...

In jail?! Holy moly. That sucks. Not everyone on Craig's List is a loser jackass, but you do have to watch out, it seems.

I love that things are lighter and you feel like you've got more wiggle room living in Austin. I can't wait to see what crafty goodness the unfettered Violette Crumble comes up with!

Lindellica said...

Oh man, you read Jonathan Kozol too? I really wish I hadn't, because it did make me sad. But one of the moms here went to the school in the Bronx he was writing about...

Anyways, it looks wonderful down there and the lack of furniture and stuff will be soon remedied, don't worry!

Brooklyn is not the same without you, but I do think you made the right choice. I keep thinking about the stairs in your apartment and hauling laundry and a toddler up them... and then I go hug my elevator.

And, ugh, the working thing. It's true, socializing here is mostly done in Mommy-time, not family.

Sorry was so psycho when you called, things are still a little hectic but I will call when they are not so I can kvetch less.

Really good to hear stuff's going well down there!

~H

Angelina said...

That's great that Harlan is loving the water! It took Max until this year to get confident in the pool. Now he's a little water rat and can do a little bit of actual swimming.

Too bad about the cottage cheese ceiling situation. And the jailed handy man. Hopefully you'll find someone else to finish the job before the furniture comes.

It can be super stressful trying to settle into a new house with none of your belongings but it sounds like you guys are doing pretty darn good. When we moved up here we couldn't get our things for a few days, but that's nothing compared to what you're going through.

Can't wait to hear more about the craft scene as you get back on track.

chetanddot said...

That is so lame about the "handy"man! It's kind of perfect that he was in jail, though. It's been a bad month for service work, some friends of mine hired an unlicensed contractor to do some work in their basement and he dug too far into the main support wall and their house almost collapsed. The initial estimate for repair is $150,000. Sheesh, be glad you didn't hire that guy!

It's great that your little family is settling in to Austin so nicely.
I hope your furniture arrives soon and safely!

Now you know someone who makes bagels. :)

XO,
Jenn

Kim said...

I'm just gonna focus on the positive, but know that you have my sympathy on the other stuff.

--LOVE the pics of H & J in the pool...frame that first one!

--Those are some fabulous, unbeatable scores you made at the yard sales. I'm jealous!

--I look forward to the return of your crafty business! (To that end, expect a little gifty package in the mail from me sooooon...) Austin seems to be very handmade-friendly, and artisan-friendly in general.

--Good news about the daycare situation, once you find the right one. I sent you an email with some info from David's sister that will hopefully help in your search.

Ans I second the observation that Brooklyn IS NOT the same without you!

dottie angel said...

oh, the dreaded popcorn ceilings....the house we are hoping to move to has them everywhere...it is probably the single one thing about the "fixer upper" we are hoping to call home, that is causing me distress..

wishing you lots of good luck with the whole moving thing and settling in to your new home...

Bitterbetty said...

Oh man, that is quite a story. When we move from Portland to Los Angeles ( ahem, Not my idea...) We couldn't find our mover for a day or two either. Seems he too our truckload of belongings to DISNEYLAND because he couldn't resist, being so close and all.

THEN! he hired some lowlife types off the street corner to carry in all our stuff. Just what we had in mind. Local umemployed hangers about that now know exactly where we live and what we got.

Congrats on finding yourself amoungnst people of your same socio economic bracket.. It is a relief, isn't it? And if we end up in the welfare hotel... I hope were neighbors!

shisomama said...

yikes that's crappy about your so-called handyman.

great that things are looking up in austin, with exciting crafting news and feeling more "normal." ah, new york - i just feel like even if you live in a relatively low-key neighborhood in brooklyn, there's such a crazy competitive spirit in new york. it's about haves and have-nots and who's doing what and who's getting where, and it just makes you crazy. i miss new york like crazy sometimes, but it's just such a relief to breathe again. personally, it gave me room to be nice again (or something close to it).

Veronica TM said...

sorry about the ceiling and the floor! what a horrible thing.
i like reading about the things you like about austin.
yay for harlan and the pool!