Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Dream apartment listing

So I (mostly) love where I live, but it's too small, or will be, and yeah. But I'm a millennial, which means I've spent all my money on avocado lattes and thus cannot buy a townhouse in the Annex next to where Margaret Atwood lives. Below, the sort of thing I'm looking for, if you've seen one of these lying around...


-In downtown Toronto. (OK, on Ischia, but trying to be realistic here, and Toronto does have much better Asian groceries, so.)

-Laundry in unit. (Not just in building! It's Toronto, ensuite laundry is the default, a girl can dream!)

-Dishwasher obviously but I don't know if I've yet seen a Toronto apartment that didn't have one? (Ones without ovens, however...)

-Gym in building. (Between the traffic and the endless winter, jogging outside is maybe not a thing in this city and definitely not one where bringing a baby along could possibly work.)

-An actual second bedroom, as in one that could fit an actual twin bed, as versus (say) an apartment-staging crib and nothing more.

-Both bedrooms have doors. I'm sorry but there's no improvement over the current situation if baby's (eventual) room is just a loft overlooking a downstairs. (Also: Why are all these tiny condos spread out over two floors? Because duplex sounds glamorous even if the reality is, this is two dorm rooms one on top of the other? See also: Why do so many apartment buildings here in the arctic have cabanas among their amenities?)

-No Kitec plumbing.

-Maintenance fee not in the rent-ish range.

-Dogs permitted. (Legally as I understand it they have to be but I'd still avoid a building with a huge sign up in the lobby stating otherwise.)

-A non-stair-involving entrance. (Not actually such an issue in Toronto and also how am I the same person as the one who once helped carry a full-size bookcase up to the top of a Park Slope walk-up??)


-A living room large enough to seem not too claustrophobic. (Current rental is #blessed in that regard.)

-Not a box-bedroom situation. As in, bedrooms both have windows. (This had been on the essentials list but am getting desperate.)

-Two bathrooms.

-Not on the gazillionth floor because for personal reasons with geopolitical significance that would sidetrack this post, that freaks me out.

-Near groceries that meet my exacting, pain-in-the-neck specifications. (Kensington or St. Lawrence Market, an H-Mart, Whole Foods, Chinatown...) Or, failing that, groceries. (No Frills is better than Loblaws is better than whatever the thing is that's like Loblaws but tiny.)

-Over 950 square feet. (Under 800 and this is definitive just-stay-put territory, I don't care how many 'bedrooms' they're claiming a space contains.)

-Very near a subway stop.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


The verdict is given at the six-week appointment: Are you back to normal? Your normal, not Gisele's, but both may seem similarly implausible. Six weeks is when - at least if you're nursing - your uterus is supposed to have shrunk down to its original size. This is a giant unspoken euphemism for: if you still look pregnant at that point, it's the pregnancy-exacerbated addiction to salt-and-pepper potato chips, but not pregnancy itself. (Or just... pregnancy more generally, which involves more than an expanded uterus? But anyway.)

The personal: It has been 10 weeks and while I feel a bunch more with-it than I did, say, 5 weeks ago, I still look... not just bigger than pre-pregnancy, but somewhat pregnant. I had and hadn't expected this. All bodies are different, so there's no actual answer to how permanent this and all other bodily changes might be.

There's all sorts of empowering language about this online: You just created and birthed a whole new human being! Be easy on yourself! Which, sure. But then there's life in the clothes limbo where the maternity clothes are excessive (or just too dreary to keep wearing), but all pre-pregnancy clothes - pants at least - seem like they belong to a small doll of some kind, so little of your current body would they possibly contain. (Admittedly this was the case with those black Levis from the get-go. What was I thinking there?)

And then this is all paired with the not-vanity physical aspects of recovering from childbirth - as much as a line can even be drawn.

And if it's winter in Canada, and your preferred form of exercise is jogging, and the only gym nearby costs $180 a month and that's with a discount, getting back (?) in shape - at whatever size - is a challenge.

What I've found, maybe of use to others, maybe not:

-Move more, but don't diet. This is essential if nursing but probably the way to go regardless. So I'm forcing myself to jog, a bit, despite the terrible weather. (High school winter track, in an only slightly less-cold climate, was good preparation.) Also to do many dog-walks I might otherwise pass off to spouse or dog-walker. But apart from trying harder to remember that vegetables exist (even in winter, in Canada) and staying away from potato chips, I'm not changing how I eat.

There are practical aspects to this choice as well as values-ish ones. Practical being, having a newborn means scarfing down something, and quickly, when time permits. (I have not turned into a different person, so there are not casseroles or bean soups going into my freezer on Sunday nights. But now is not the moment for the David Tanis recipe where use of foraged asparagus is encouraged.) Values more like, I have a daughter, one who for better or worse will not be coming of age on the Upper East Side in the 1990s. Worse perhaps global-politics-wise but in terms of having the option of avoiding thinness-is-everything culture, better, I hope?

It can hard if you grew up in that culture to look at your newly-very-pudgy waistline and not think, this is a problem something must be done about. So I sort of allow myself to think this, but then remind myself that whatever the build is that results from eating normal food and getting some exercise is the one I'm best off having.

-'Invest' in jeans in the size you actually are. Just do it, don't overthink. I resisted doing so at first, both because I believed (correctly) that my build at 3 weeks postpartum or whatever would not continue, and because I figured (incorrectly!) I'd be fine alternating between sweats and leggings indefinitely. Turns out, it does wonders for a sense of normalcy, of resumption of life outside a postpartum haze, to put on some pants - yes, with stretch - that have a zipper.

But... get nice jeans. I don't necessarily mean $200 (a road I personally have yet to go down, now or otherwise), just ones that you genuinely like, and that don't feel temporary. Because who knows! They very well might not be temporary, and you don't want to be aiming for size goals rather than in-shape-ness ones all because you're sick of wearing crummy jeans in your 'just for now' size. I ordered two pairs from Everlane - one in black, inspired by Andréa in "Call My Agent!", and another in dark denim inspired by my need for a pair of regular jeans that can close around the waist - that are so nice that this will be the silver lining if I wind up having to get rid of all my previous pants.

-In-person clothes-shopping is not going to happen. Certainly not if you're carrying your baby in a carrier, or exclusively nursing (which in my experience means you never have more than 2 hours apart from baby, and get antsy after 30 minutes). Or if it does, don't expect to try anything on in the store. Normally I don't do online shopping. I have gotten over this.

-Accessories, always the obvious choice when clothes are for whatever reason complicated. But shoes are tricky because walking around with a baby (in winter, at least) is limiting style-wise even to those who don't normally wear anything all that impractical. (Got a pair of Blundstone boots in the third trimester and am trying to remember that I own other shoes, but the traction they provide on the perma-ice outside is making this difficult.) Bags, same - whatever it is will need to fit some baby-stuff, if not necessarily nearly as much as diaper bags suggest. But I ordered myself a bracelet (this, from Shlomit Ofir), which just arrived, and now feel massively more elegant. Have painted my nails red to go with. And the velvet scrunchies I bought in my last third-trimester outing-of-sorts (tacked onto a trip to the dentist) do liven up a sweatpants look.