Nick Davies created the smartphone app Hangr, a crowdsourcing tool that more than 3.4 million people use every week to avoid buying new coat hangers. Davies, 36, manages his development firm from his home office, flying to San Francisco once a week to meet with his staff. This spring Davies bought a two bedroom on the Lower East Side. "It has tons of sunlight and exposed brick, but four months ago a dying smoke detector somewhere in the complex started beeping intermittently," he says. "It's thrown our Sundays off a bit." Davies lives with his wife, Juliette, a lawyer, and their two children, Kemper and Jodi, ages 7 and 4.
Built-In Alarm Clock
I usually wake up at around 4:30 or 5 and make coffee. My wife doesn't like to keep a fan on in our room, so the beeping often seeps into my dreams. For instance, I'll dream I'm 18 and sitting in homeroom taking the SAT and this awful, constant, beeping, will start during the analogy section but no one else in the class seems to hear it. Or I'll have to defuse a bomb that's duct-taped to my kids' chests and they're screaming that they don't want to die and then the rhythm of the beeping syncs up with my heartbeat. I've had that one a lot. Sometimes after I put coffee on I'll make scones for the kids.
Quiet Time (Almost)
By 10 or so Juliette and the kids are up and they've had their cereal or whatever, and they know to clear out of the apartment because this is when I walk out into the courtyard to try and assess where the beeping is coming from. I need absolute silence. The contractors and neighbors and friends and other people I've had out here usually tell me that the echo makes it impossible to calculate exactly where it's coming from and that I can probably just wait it out but I think they're wrong. I've almost figured it out. A few more hours and I will have figured it out.
After spending the morning triangulating the sound, I usually head back in and catch up on some smoke detector troubleshooting sites on my iPad. There are so many models and about a dozen different "Low Battery" beeping patterns, but I think I've narrowed it down to a Kidde i9040. It's got that nice sharp chirp that cuts you to your bone, and enough stored battery to last a year or more on Power Save Mode. I used to drink a lot of kombucha but now I just mix apple cider vinegar and water. Usually I'll get the vinegar delivered from Whole Foods. My wife calls it my "prison kombucha."
Bike To The Park
I bought a motorcycle a few weeks ago because I've always wanted one, OK? So I'll ride it over the Williamsburg Bridge to McCarren Park where Kemper has his tennis lessons. We like to sit on a blanket and watch him work on his backhand. The other tennis families used to bring wine and cheese and we'd all hang out together, but a few months back I was doing some drills with the kids and that little jerk Kurt Robeson says that I intentionally swung a racket in his face but these kids, what do they know about life's random cruelties? How could I possibly explain to him that this, all of this, could be gone in an instant and the things he cherishes most could be poisoned by the slightest, most pointless shift of fate?
So now we usually just relax and read alone. I've been trying to finish Telegraph Avenue since December.
B&E For The Fam-i-ly
After tennis we're all kind of ravenous so we'll eat something not-so-healthy, like Popeyes or Prosperity Dumpling, then I'll take us over to the Seward Park Library to eat. It's not open on Sundays but a guy I paid who used to work there made me a key so we'll just sit in the stacks and eat in pure silence. Nothing but the happy smacks of our lips in the Young Adult section. This is probably my favorite part of the day.
Daddy's Got Homework Too
When we get home at around 7, I'll help Kemper with his homework while Juliette gets some alone time. Jodi likes to pretend she's in school too, and I'll give her little assignments. When the kids are done, they know it's time to help me make my effigies. Since the super in our building and the management refuse to look into the smoke detector issue, I've been making life-sized dolls to set on fire or nail to the front door—sometimes the dolls look like the defenseless members of our family, sometimes they resemble the likenesses of their cruel tormentors. The effigies are an expression of our hopelessness. I go through at least a dozen a week. Jodi is getting really good at cutting wigs apart!
I didn't used to like Drambuie but now it really helps clear my head while I'm trying to wind down. Rick, the guy behind the counter at that liquor store on Delancey and Essex, gives me half-off if I buy three bottles. Every time I'm in there I tell him about the smoke detector and every time he tells me I have a "Beeping Tom." Rick's a funny guy. By 10 or 11, we're all in the same bed for story time. A recent favorite is The Tiniest Iguana. It's about a tiny iguana's first day at school and how his Dad loves him very much and needs lots of hugs and understanding while he's trying to cope with a very real threat to his sanity. Sometimes I read it twice.
By midnight the kids are in their room and Juliette is asleep and I'm staring out the window, wishing that I wasn't.