Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Sleeping Beauty

Everybody sleeps differently. Some people lovingly cuddle, others are violently territorial.  Some never make a sound, others converse in unintelligible languages. Some greet the morning looking refreshed, others look as though they have been through battle. I posses all of the less than desirable sleeping characteristics. I often leave my bedmates to wonder… is this the same person?

Each extremity dominates a corner of the full size bed. My head rests comfortably between both pillows. My body heeds no boundaries. All covers either wrap around me like a burrito or surrender as a wrinkled pile on the floor. Little pools of drool collect on the sheets. I wake up with a side ponytail, twisted pajamas, and a limp. My voice sounds like I smoke about ten packs of cigarettes a day. I twirl my feet because it calms me down. My sleeping habits do not represent my personality. I promise…

My husband’s sleep style perfectly epitomizes him. His sleep manner is sweet, loveable, caring, and snuggly. Ugh. He loves to cuddle and nuzzle. I know. That’s every girl’s fantasy. He likes to whisper good morning in my ear. His hair either does a cute, little cowlick in the back or looks like he spiked it into a flattop. He seldom wanders to my side of the bed. A serial Sleep Warrior happened to marry a Siesta Sweetie.

The problem is that I take advantage of my husband in bed… unconsciously, of course. Last night, I awoke as he gently prodded my shoulder.

“Um, sweetie, can you share a little bit?”

I had stolen all of the covers which left him frozen and feeble. I passed over a few inches of blanket.


I felt another poke a few hours later, but this time on my head.

“Um, are you okay? You’re drifting pretty far down. Don’t you like me?”

I had wiggled to the end of the bed so that only my torso touched the mattress. My feet dangled millimeters from the wooden floor. I grunted. I’ve been wiggling down the bed a lot. Not sure exactly what it means, but it’s something new.

“I just want you to be comfortable, Kitten.”

My alarm buzzed at 6:30am this morning. I squinted through partially closed eyes and stretched my toes. The side of my head ached where my ponytail had moseyed during the night. I rubbed my lower back where a dull ache lingered from the odd position in which I had slept. I fumbled for my glasses and looked at the angel sleeping next to me. How this Nap Nazi got so lucky, I’ll never know. I just count my lucky sheep, um, stars, every night.

Monday, November 19, 2007

If You Can't Stand the Heat Then Get Out of the Kitchen

There are some things that my husband and I can do (and enjoy) together. We hold hands as we walk. We cuddle when we watch a movie. I sweep the floor with the broom as he squeegees behind me with the Swiffer Wetjet. I stuff the clothes in the washer as he pours the detergent. We divide the grocery list to cut our shopping time in half. Ah, yes, those are activities in which we work together so well. We work as a team. We treat each other as equals. But, as most couples discover, there exists a time which harmony and the “meet me in the middle” mentality dissolve...

For us, that time is in the kitchen. It’s when we approach the idea of creating a meal as a fun activity, but it ultimately ends with us both sticky and frustrated. It’s when we both squeeze into a 10x4 foot space that offers a mini fridge, a stove with saucer sized burners, and enough counter space for a toaster and spice rack. It’s when the recipe calls for one cup of sugar and we both accidentally throw in an extra cup when the other isn’t looking. It’s when we can “apple butter” for three hours over a hot stove on an unforgiving summer afternoon. Cooking. Together. In a small space. Not an activity to strengthen the bonds of marriage. Not an activity to bring two people closer together.

My advice to newlyweds – too many cooks in the kitchen can lead to a recipe for disaster. Let one person cook and one person clean.

Friday, November 16, 2007

You Can't Stay If You Don't Pay

Apparently, my husband and I weren’t the only inhabitants enjoying the warmth of our teeny apartment. But, I’m pretty sure that we’re the only ones who pay rent. I popped out of the shower, squeaky clean and energized, at 6:39am. I dried off with a towel, thinking of the day’s activities while still immersed in the lingering aroma of White Rain’s “Energizing Citrus”. It was going to be a good day. I had a glimpse of the day’s potential. Or, I did, until a thousand legged millipede interrupted my happy thoughts crawling across the wood floor in the kitchen. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on edge just thinking about it.

I hate, hAtE, HATE millipedes, centipedes, and anything else that ends with “pede”. Millipedes make my gag reflex kick into overdrive, my skin prickle, my fingernails peel, and my imagination run amuck with horrifying “Fear Factor” thoughts. My heart rate rises just typing about the wretched creatures. I’m going to have to eat a chocolate cupcake to calm my nerves after this blog.

I stared at the millipede. A towel dangled from one arm. My hair dripped a pool of cooling water on the tile. I stood frozen, afraid to move. He (the millipede) sensed my presence and stopped trotting across my floor. The fluorescent light illuminated our figures against the otherwise dark apartment.

In a perfect world I would have yelled for my husband to wake up, jump out of bed, roll up a magazine, flex his muscles, and use his manliness to kill the enemy. Save his wife! Oh, no. Not in my world. My husband wouldn’t do that because he is just as scared of millipedes as I am. He wouldn’t be of any use. I had to squash the enemy. The burden was on my shoulders.

I dropped the towel, long jumped over the adversary, and streaked across the apartment with wet hair flying. I had to make a choice – my stiletto or my husband’s shoe? Honestly, the decision was easy. I grabbed his shoe and slid back to where the bug waited… motionless. Was he dead? Did he have a heart attack? Succumb to old age? Could I be that lucky? No! He moved. Yikes! I screamed and slammed the shoe down with uninterrupted brutality. I breathed and lifted up the shoe. Dead. Smooshed beyond recognition. Just the way I like them.

A muffled noise came from the other side of the apartment. My husband asked what was going on. Was I okay? Just fine, I replied, just fine. I dropped his shoe, dusted off my hands, and continued with my morning routine. You can’t stay if you don’t pay.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Snip, Snip

As a newly married couple living off one income in New York City, we have to cut corners. For lunch, we sometimes (depending how low the food fund is) swing by Westside Market for free cheese samples. Westside provides a bountiful assortment of cheeses from all over the world – from a Wisconsin dairy cow to a Tibetan yak. You name it – cheddar, Swiss, feta, Gouda – they have it, in bulk. Another idea for us to save money now comes at the cost of my husband’s vanity… his hair. We decided that I would cut his hair instead of paying someone else to do it. Honestly, how hard could it be?

I picked up our only pair of scissors and realized that this haircut had to look halfway decent because he had an important interview at work the next day. No pressure. Every time I caught sight of my husband’s face in the mirror a nervous, yet slightly merciless, laugh ensued. He looked frightened, unsure of my abilities. His skin turned a shade whiter and his brow dampened with sweat whenever the dull shears snipped off a lock of hair. I took art in high school and once did ceramics. I have steady hands and pay attention to detail.

I realized the true power I hold when I traded my scissors for the electric trimmer. My stomach flipped when I turned it on and lowered the guard to seven. My husband tried to give me directions, tips, techniques. I couldn’t hear him. Giddiness reverberated throughout my body like the electric current traveling through the trimmer. I felt this maniac side of me start to emerge. I really just wanted to grab his head and shave off every hair. It sounded like so much fun.

I trimmed the back. I rounded the side. Now it was time to “blend” from guard seven to six. I haven’t mastered the art of “blending” and attempted several different techniques. My husband glimpsed at the current technique I was using through the mirror. I swooped in and up. It seemed to work. But, somewhere between the “in” and “up” I took out a patch, or chunk, of hair directly behind his right eye. Not unfixable and definitely not intentional. I was secretly amused, but my husband was not. He grabbed the trimmers, lowered the guard, and worked some magic. Eventually, the patch (almost) disappeared.

One hour later, my first haircutting experience was over. The haircut turned out good, better than expected. It looks like I have taken on another role – substitute teacher, wife, cupcake maker, and now stylist.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mr. Clean

Men can be the complete opposite of women. The way they think, their ability to emotionally detach themselves in order to think clearly, their responses to situations, their ability to get ready for a big event in seven minutes flat. Okay, the last one is not true for all men, but most.

On Friday, girls from my new (temporary) job invited me to “happy hour” at a place a few blocks away from both our work and my apartment. A girlfriend and I walked to my place to continue with the night’s festivities after happy hour ended. I called to forewarn my husband of our impending arrival. He mentioned that he would straighten up the apartment. Ahhh, I remembered. Half of my closet was strewn around our one room. I couldn’t find the “right” outfit for work – “Friday casual” yet professional with a hint of trendy. Not easy for a girl on a tight budget. How thoughtful of my husband to “clean” the apartment.

We arrived fifteen minutes later after seven blocks, two avenues, and one picture with fully dressed NYC firemen at the 76th Street firehouse. The apartment looked, um, great? Let me preface that statement with “the apartment looked great by guy standards.” My work clothes? Stacked in a wrinkled pile and covered by a dry-clean only sweater on the coffee table. He thought the sweater would convince our guest that it was magically suspended above a clean coffee table. My shoes? Stuffed under the dusty couch. My makeup? Shoved into a bathroom counter corner. His half-filled suitcase from Wednesday? Pushed in front of the sink. The apartment wasn’t as much cleaned as it was simply rearranged.

I, of course, would have hung the clothes in the closet, hidden the makeup, 409ed the countertop, straightened the stack of magazines, took out the trash, adjusted the mirror on the wall, thrown cookies in the oven, and sprayed a room deodorizer that left a faint, yet pleasant, scent of “Suddenly Cinnamon” or “Hawaiian Tropic Breeze”. We entered. My husband stood in the middle of the apartment with his arms open and gestured for me to recognize his work as if to say, “Look at my masterpiece.” Men, they honestly have no clue sometimes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Little Surprises

I love the little things I discover in the city. I suppose that’s expected in a city where eight million people span thirteen miles of island. Everyone stacked upon one other in miniature apartments separated by narrow allies. New York always existed as some other place, as somebody else’s place. Now, it’s my place too.

I often get lost when I travel around the city. Usually, it’s when I have to be somewhere on time or meet somebody. But, isn’t that how life goes? Nothing is ever clear cut and the best way isn’t always the quickest, safest, or easiest.

I love to turn onto a side street and discover a cozy coffee shop, a temporary bookstore that lines the sidewalk, or a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant that serves the best General Tso’s chicken. Just when I decide that New Yorkers aren’t friendly, an older lady smiles at me as we cross the street. Just when I think no one considers anyone else’s situation, a gentleman lets me cut in line at Fairways during the 5pm rush. Just as I bite my bottom lip in uncertainty about my move here, a new friend invites me for a drink after work.

I like the little surprises that the big city offers at unexpected times. They’re not life changing, but they mean a lot. They’re not fancy or expensive, but do I really need everything to be tied in pretty, big bows? The simpler, smaller pleasures suffice if I let them.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Quest Continues

Once again, I rant about the job search that is going… nowhere. I comfortably sit on two fat degrees that yearn to be used. I mull over the classifieds and online job posts as Bon Jovi croons on the TV in the background. He probably pays an assistant big bucks to guarantee that his hair remains perfectly coiffed at least 99% of the time. Hmmm, what qualifications do you need to acquire that job? I never went to beauty school, but I did once compete in a pageant which means I know a lot about the importance and maintenance of an overdone, bouffant hairstyle. I switch from VH1 to Good Morning America. Maybe Diane Sawyer will cover a story on an immediate demand for speech therapists in New York City. Sadly, I doubt it.

This week I substitute taught at different schools to get my foot in door, make contacts, and network. The extra money is a definite bonus. I met some people that gave me a few leads for potential jobs in the educational realm of my field. Hopefully, fingers crossed, a job opportunity will materialize from the contacts I made. I enjoyed teaching and another benefit of subbing was that I met really fun New Yorkers who promise to show me a good time in the Big Apple. Possible contacts, friends, and a paycheck? Awesome.

As for now, I continue to trek forward in my hunt for a job. I’ve opened my search field to include schools, hospitals, private practice, and nursing homes. I am going to keep a positive outlook and look at this period of unemployment as a time to reflect, grow, and empathize with other jobless folks. Yeah, right. I put Bon Jovi on mute as I once again send my resume to more faceless potential employers and pray for the best.