Cute, Isn’t It


Location Carroll Gardens

Rent $1,850 [market]

Square feet 875 [floor-through apartment in brownstone]

Occupants Jodie Ousley [attorney, Moran & d’Arcambal]; Rob Tallia [co-founder and managing editor, Not for Tourists]; Miles Ousley Tallia [15 months old]

What is Miles doing? [Miles] Sheeeep! Duck, duck, duck.

He just quacked. He has an animal board game. [Rob] We used to live over our book office in Chinatown. You know the bank building with the pagoda?

The red and green one. That’s it. It’s about 100 years old. It’s still got an elevator guy. One day I was wondering why my lunch wasn’t being delivered. The restaurant called: “Federal agents are surrounding the building.” There was an illegal green-card operation. The last sweatshop moved out. They were way better than the current tenants because the sweatshops didn’t want any trouble. The building ran very smoothly. [Jodie] We did have a suicide this year.

Aren’t you nervous and excited when you go to the office? [Rob] We’re hoping for peace and quiet. [Jodie] You probably want to talk about our apartment.

So was the woman in the house slippers outside adjusting the garbage cans your landlady? [Rob] Yes, our landlords are great.

You’re on one of those big, wide brownstone streets in this longtime Italian neighborhood. Let’s see the room where your mother stays.
Here’s Miles’s room. [Jodie] In the loft above is where my mother stays when she comes.

Let me climb up these tiny stairs. Whoops, there goes the painting on the wall. [They put it back.] What a low ceiling. It’s kind of hot up here. [Rob] There’s an air conditioner down here. [Jodie] She came to New York about eight years ago and got a master’s in sculpture at Pratt. She’s still married to my dad. But she and I moved here together from Texas in ’97 after I graduated law school.

You’re very close? We are now.

I see. She was a dental hygienist and then an architect. Now she’s a sculptor. [We go back and look at Miles.]

Don’t you love how children’s feet turn out when they’re in their strollers. They have complete confidence in their presence on the earth. You mentioned that you love maps. Maps are often genius pieces of illustration. Did you ever see the book You Are Here? One map is of the jack-o’-lanterns in a neighborhood. [
Jodie] I can tell you what he looks for: the ends of roads. He likes the poles.

North and South—they’re terrifying. [Rob] Nothing’s ever scared me.

Is this a baby neighborhood? [Rob] Huge. [Jodie] We know so many people now—the deli, hi Miles, the laundry, hi Miles. [ Miles puts on his Mickey Mouse ears.] All the stores have baby sections now. The Indian restaurant has little baby T-shirts in the window.

Are there great schools? In Cobble Hill there’s an absolutely brilliant one. We’re so busy looking at preschools. There’s a Montessori on our street. That’s around $18,000 a year for preschool. The Quaker Friends School. They have fantastic philosophies but they’re $18,000.

[A hundred hours later, I decide to get the info on the mother. I call her in Arlington, Texas.]

Hello, Julia? [Julia] Hi, wait, I’m at a party, let me go in the hall. It’s a wedding shower. Yes, I spend one week a month in my little loft. I have a little circulating fan. It’s cute, isn’t it? I designed it. Rob had the cute idea to do the drafting table. If you unlatch that bulletin board, it swings down . . .

Had you been to New York before you came with Jodie? Actually Jodie came with me. I took her when I visited Pratt. We just fell in love with New York. I told her we could be roommates. But I couldn’t be the mother.

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