Monday, December 22, 2008

New Digs

On Sunday, we rented a U-Haul and maneuvered our way through Manhattan to the new IKEA store in Brooklyn. It was my first time, and it was amazing.

In New York City, IKEA is like a Mecca, this magical place that has everything to make an apartment awesome. Most things are cheap, functional, and look good when on a budget.

We prepared for the adventure by first enjoying a light lunch at the IKEA restaurant located on the second floor. Then, we grabbed our tape measure and notepad and scoured the football field sized store for two bookcases, a TV stand, baskets, picture frames, and a mirror.

We didn’t have room for furniture in our studio (just a bed, table, dresser, and couch), but we do have a little extra in our one bedroom apartment. And, yes, you read that correctly – our ONE bedroom apartment.

It’s still a small place, but it is TWO ROOMS. The kitchen is more of a kitchenette and you can comfortably brush your teeth in the sink and sit on the toilet at the same time, but it’s NEW YORK. It’s just part of the living here.

A one bedroom apartment AND brand new IKEA furniture. Life just got a little, wait, a lot better.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Still Unpacking

Once again, sorry for the lack of posts this week. Unpacking and organizing everything "just right" in a little apartment takes time and thought, at least I think so. Although, it appears that Ben has a different philosophy. He prefers the ole "toss and throw" approach and randomly stuffing things into any available space. I've caught him, once or twice, using his body weight to shut cabinet doors to stop the flow of junk from overtaking the floor. Moving always does bring up the question... who really needs all this stuff?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Status Update

Sorry for the lack of posts. This past weekend we spent five hours cleaning, seven hours packing, twelve hours painting, and five hours moving and maneuvering through the city in a 14 foot U-Haul. More about it later.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Stars

Two more celebrity names need to be added to the list: Anne Hathaway and, Oscar winner, Philip Seymour Hoffman. I totally forgot that I watched Anne Hathaway film the upcoming movie, "Bride Wars", at the subway station by our apartment on my way to work this summer.

We passed Philip Seymour Hoffman on the street on Saturday when Ben, his mom, and I were walking to a play around Times Square. Ben, rarely star struck, excitedly said, "There's Philip Seymour Hoffman." I didn't hear and said, "Who?" With much gumption and enthusiasm, Ben yelled and pointed "IT'S PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN!" Just like we were cheering at a UK basketball game. Oh yeah, we definitely played it cool.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Friday Night

On Saturday, Ben and I joined tweens and their parents for the movie “Twilight”. At first, we felt out of place since the median age hovered around 13, but our self-consciousness faded with the arrival of a few “older” folks (the parents).

Two sisters, eight and 12 years old, settled next to Ben. They chatted and giggled excitedly. Who was their favorite character? Who was cuter? Which book was their favorite? How many times had they seen the movie? Ben jumped into the conversation, happy to finally talk freely about his love of the series. As a guy, he had repressed his true feelings. Something about a 27-year-old man reading girly teenage love stories about vampires and werewolves didn’t sit well with him.

We knew the phenomenon Twilight had become before the movie started, but didn’t anticipate the reactions of the young female fans. When the lights dimmed and the previews ended, Edward Cullen sent every girl into a screaming frenzy with his big screen debut. I forgot how fun it is to become obsessed with books and movies. It’s like Harry Potter all over again.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Movin' On Up

We have decided to upgrade. On December 15th, we leave our apartment for one with more storage and TWO ROOMS (by New York standards). We will say goodbye to our one room “home” and start over somewhere new… somewhere that has TWO ROOMS. A door actually separates them. Hard to believe, I know. My toes curl in anticipation. I will be able to talk on the phone without Ben hearing or turn on lights without waking him on Saturday mornings. Imagine!

We entertained the idea of moving for some time, but never jumped on it. Then, last Sunday, we decided to do it. Just like that. We “craigslisted” four places on Saturday, looked at them on Sunday, and then picked one on Monday. The entire process took 48 hours.

Apartment hunting IS one of the most stressful New York experiences. You encounter brokers who cost thousands of dollars and eager owners dying to get current leases off their hands. There is no time to leisurely peruse apartments and score good deals. No time to mull over which apartment is better or which one has everything you want. You only have a small window of time to tell your landlord you’re leaving before rent overlaps at both places and leaves you broke. You literally have hours to decide whether or not to take a place based on one viewing because thousands of other people are also looking for an apartment. The process is quick and dirty, much like the city itself.

Our move 20 blocks north won’t be a major change. The new place is still old and still small, but it will work. We’ll make it our home, just as we did with the studio. Moving does mean finding a new diner and handy corner market, a new bar and a new barber. But, it will be exciting. Fun. And, everything will fall into place. I just (cross-my-fingers) know it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Woods

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stars

The one question that I get asked over and over is… have you ever seen anybody famous? The long awaited answer to that question is a big, fat YES.

Here is a rundown of the celebs that I have seen, met, or stalked from a legal distance (and in no particular order):

- Colin Farrell (walking on the Upper East Side)
- America Ferrera (at the Boat Basin restaurant)
- Cameron Diaz (singing karaoke at Sing Sing bar)
- Ashton Kutcher (with Cameron Diaz)
- Cynthia Nixon (outside our subway stop)
- Francis McDormand (neighbor in adjacent building)
- Mischa Barton (chased her through Central Park)
- Seal (shopping in SOHO)
- Kevin Bacon (in Midtown on my way to the social security office)
- John Slattery (in the West Village)
- Bebe Neuwirth (asked her for directions)
- Kristen Chenoweth (on cell phone outside Buttercup Bake Shop)
- Amber Tamblyn (at the Upright Citizen's Brigade)

Ben also felt compelled to add a few names to the list of people that he’s seen around NYC:

- Denzel Washington
- Kirsten Dunst
- Michael J. Fox
- Woody Allen
- Flavor Flav
- Gavin Rosedale
- Gwen Stefani

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Secrets Don't Make Friends

Ben relaxed on the bed and read as I chatted on the phone with a girlfriend about 20 feet away. I holed up in the bathroom with the door shut to achieve as much privacy as possible. For about 30 minutes, we unloaded about “men”. We talked about the good and the bad, but mostly just the bad.

I emerged from the bathroom after our conversation… reborn and a little lighter from the release of stresses and annoyances that build from living with someone in 300 square feet of space.

I moseyed toward the bed and Ben rolled to face me. He had this are-you-serious look on his face. Uh-oh. I nervously giggled and quickly recalled the things I said. I could have been talking about anybody… right? Or, about men in general, not him specifically? Right?

Yikes. A pressed wood door and a little distance just isn’t enough to keep secrets in a teeny, tiny studio. It might be time to upgrade.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nice Hog

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Made of Money

We dragged ourselves to the subway at Penn Station around 8:30pm on Saturday. As we walked, a boy selling fruit rollups jumped in our way and begged us to buy fruit rollups to help his basketball team raise money. The deal - two for $5 or three for $10. The math didn’t quite add up, but I was impressed with his entrepreneurial skills and productivity on a Saturday night.

I gave him a dollar for the great sales pitch and caught up with a laughing Ben. He shook his head. He couldn’t believe that I fell for the kid’s routine.

“Weak,” he said.

Two minutes later, an aspiring rapper named “Hip Hop Obama” persuaded Ben to fork over $10 for his CD, “Dollarmentary as Amero Dollar, Vol. 1”. He even autographed it for no additional charge.

I stood, dumbfounded, as Ben spent 10x the amount I donated to a kid who only wanted basketballs and uniforms! I snapped a picture of Hip Hop Obama and Ben with my cell phone, a complementary gift with purchase the of a CD, and we continued our walk to Penn.

Suckers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Backyard



View from the back.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ben in Tunnel

Monday, November 3, 2008

Love Is All You Need

Last week, I had an early morning meeting and took the 3 train downtown, a very different morning commute compared to my usual trip uptown to Harlem.

The doors opened at 72nd street; I squeezed onto the train and into the middle of straight-faced New Yorkers outfitted with business suits and briefcases. The morning commuters squished into every open space, creating a solid mass of bodies. With no pole in reach, I locked my legs and braced myself for the lurching and jerking of the train. But, I was no match for the 3 train.

With every twist and turn, I toppled into a random man’s very large, very rotund stomach – a pretty comfortable landing pad considering the other options that surrounded me. And, like a true New Yorker, I avoided eye contact and pretended that consistently falling face first into his belly button was normal.

Then, ever so faintly, in the silence of the packed train, music from his headphones drifted my way… “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles played, a perfect melody for this New York train.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

America, America



I snapped this photo from the back of the boat on the way to the Statue of Liberty - a nice view of the Big Apple.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Return Home

I knew we were back in the city as soon as we departed the plane at LaGuardia airport on Sunday afternoon. I heaved my suitcase up the two flights of stairs that led to the baggage claim terminal and fondly recalled the hospitality and genuine friendliness we encountered at the Bluegrass airport. The tinkling laugh of the desk agents and the “ya’ll enjoy your trip” sendoff from security replayed in my mind.

My happy memory quickly faded when the airport agent that awaited our arrival at LaGuardia greeted each deplaned passenger with a stern gaze and straight face. No sunny Sunday afternoon smile. Not even a small wave.

I dropped my suitcase and rolled it through the crowded terminal, shaking my head at the difference 600 miles can make. Oh, Kentucky, how I love thee.

Friday, October 24, 2008

New Posts Soon

I apologize for the lack of new posts this past week. My computer gave its last "hooray" before biting the dust on Tuesday. Therefore, leaving me with nothing to use to type. I did get a brand spankin' new computer on Wednesday, so there will be plenty of posts next week.

Until then...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cruising


I know, I know... another picture from California. I can't help it. This weekend we traded summer clothes for winter and got our first hot chocolate on Friday night. Sometimes, I just need a little reminder of summer.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Perspectives: Part VI

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the 3rd graders at my school and their enlightening comments about the presidential candidates. Last week, the 2nd graders shared their knowledge about the vice presidential candidates. They weren’t too far off.

For Biden, they commented on his white hair and kindness at helping Obama become president. They also mentioned that he often looked like a weather man. Understandable.

They said Palin wants to help McCain win and that she loves to hunt moose. Oh, and that she looks like Judge Judy.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On A Mission

A couple of weeks ago, Ben and I ate dinner several blocks from our apartment. As we ate, about 15 black SUVs with black tinted windows and men in black suits zoomed up Broadway. Who was important enough to deserve a fast moving caravan of black Chevy Tahoes?

We soon found out.

As we walked home, we noticed the same cars and bodyguards waiting in and around the entrance of Barnes and Nobles. My first thought? C-e-l-e-b-r-i-t-y. Ben’s first thought? Not sure. I had already snapped into celeb-stalking mode and was on an intense storewide search for anyone famous.

Minutes later, after a fruitless search, I cornered a store employee and pressed him for information about who was in the store. His response… “the president of Turkey and some other really important people.”

I was impressed, but not SUPER impressed. My camera was poised and ready to snap pictures of Brangelina or TomKat; pictures that would have earned me lots and lots of money.

Maybe next time. After all, it is New York. Anything can happen.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Beep, Beep

I love taxis. They're so easy. Piece of cake.

Ben and I take the bus or subway everywhere - when we go out at night, on the weekends, to work. Not very sexy.

But, when friends visit or when we celebrate a special occasion, we hop in a taxi and zoom all over town. A taxi ride basically means: a temperature regulated motor vehicle, perfectly coiffed hair upon arrival, and a decrease in overall travel time. The stress of getting somewhere is virtually eliminated.

Oh, and I always feel very Carrie Bradshaw when hailing one from the curb in heels. What can I say? It’s a girl thing.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ben's Birthday

This weekend we celebrated Ben’s upcoming 27th birthday. New York City style, of course. The only way to do it here.

On Friday, Ben’s best friend made a surprise trip from Washington, D.C. and on Saturday 12 friends came together for a surprise dinner. I was nervous all week. The anticipation of pulling off Nick’s visit AND the dinner had me going crazy with anxious excitement. One slip of the tongue or misdirected email could have ruined everything. Oy! The life of a New York party planner is hard.

For dinner, we ate at a trendy restaurant in the Meatpacking District called Vento. The restaurant is shaped like a triangle because it sits in the middle of two streets that cross in the shape of an X. The restaurant was delicious, trendy, and very posh… so... us.

The weekend celebration was perfect, fun, and exhausting. Just the way a 27th birthday should be.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Not Cool Enough

Yesterday, in school, a small group of students were upset by the difficulty of a class assignment. Amidst the whining and the groaning, I said “Whoa, guys. Chill out. Don’t worry. We’ll get it.”

Five fourth graders turned my way and burst into laughter. Apparently, I said something… wrong?

A student spoke, “You can’t say ‘chill’. That’s a cool word that teachers can’t use.”

Everyone murmured in agreement.

Wait! What? Excuse me! I am 26 years old, wear skinny jeans, AND watch Gossip Girl… how am I not cool?

These kids really know how to hit below the belt.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Still Dreaming

One more picture from San Francisco. Gotta love the west coast.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wishing and Hoping


I snapped this picture when we were in San Francisco. We were on our way home from Carmel and I spotted this lady meditating by the ocean. Ah... the ocean, the sun, the breeze... maybe again next year.

Friday, September 26, 2008

From The Top



Taken from the top of the Empire State Building.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Soft Eyes

It’s kind of funny. I started this blog to talk about how different and crazy New York is. It was pretty easy in the beginning.

Everything was weird and most people seemed crazy. Here rent is a bazillion dollars, apartments are closets, and the fast pace is nonstop. New Yorkers are loud, straight to the point, work long hours, and commute everywhere by bus, subway, train, and then ferry. The lifestyle adjustment was big, and the city proved to be unlike anywhere else I had ever lived.

Twelve months ago, a good day meant that I avoided injury from flying taxis and passing pedestrians. A really day meant not getting cussed out during the five o’clock rush at the grocery store by somebody’s grandma. But, now, I hardly notice any of that.

Everything is different because now I am a New Yorker (almost). I elbow people in my way and I get around the city without help; without the fear of getting lost or flattened by something tougher than me.

It’s harder to notice the “crazy” things in the city because it’s finally become normal. Granted, a homeless man posed as the Statue of Liberty holding a tree branch while humming the national anthem will never really be normal, but the daily hustle and bustle of the city and its people have become routine. Now, a lot of it seems kind of… comforting. Kind of like, well, home.

I’ve successfully adjusted to the good and the bad of big city life, which is huge to say because one year ago, I didn’t know if that would be possible. From a writer’s standpoint, this means that I have to work a little harder and keep my eyes open to the wildness that still goes on in this concrete jungle. It will be difficult, but as a New Yorker, I am up to the challenge.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fisheye View



A cool view of Manhattan from Governor's Island. This view is only a short ferry ride away from the big city and is FREE. Do it while it lasts.

Photo taken on Saturday.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

All Good Things Must Come To An End



As summer ends and fall begins, New Yorkers squeeze in a few more days of tanning and lounging in the warm sun.

Picture taken at Riverside Park, one block from our apartment.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Adios, White Couch!

We sold a couch on Craigslist… our first official “sale” through the website. We had two couches – one that we bought last year on Craigslist and one that we found on the sidewalk a block from our apartment. Today, the first couch found a new home with a young student at Columbia who carted it home with a rented U-Haul pickup truck.

She pulled up to our building, and Ben and I carried the couch from our apartment to her truck. We held the couch and waited as she covered the truck bed with a sheet. Since the truck was parked semi-illegally, cars filled with New York drivers honked incessantly and yelled obscenities through cracked windows.

A nearby construction worker moseyed over and started to direct traffic around our “road block”. As I helped Ben hoist the couch onto the back of the truck, the construction worker admired my bulging biceps and said, “I’d hate to meet you in a dark alley.”

You’ve got that right, buddy. This is one tough New Yorker.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cookies and Popsicles

Call it lazy. Call it ornery. Whatever you call it, we experience it every week. It begins when we lounge on the bed or couch, enjoying one another’s company, as we watch a semi-good TV show or Netflix movie.

Then, we get hungry. Or, at least, one of us gets hungry and then entices the other with sweet thoughts of chocolate chip cookies or fruit popsicles. Neither wants to get up, too comfortable, to preheat the oven or reach in the cold freezer. Basically, we do not want to burn calories to walk twelve feet to the kitchen.

This is how it usually goes.

“YOU preheat the oven and I will put the cookies in.”

“No, YOU preheat the oven and I will put the cookies in and YOU take them out.”

It’s then that we both realize that the best option is to preheat the oven because the one who gets stuck putting the cookies in must also expend additional energy rolling the dough into balls and slapping them on the cookie sheet. When that realization sets in, a WWE wrestling match ensues, with the winner only having to preheat the oven.

Keep in mind that I will start yoga soon, so my strength and endurance will increase and I will be defeated no more.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sitting Pretty

Friday, September 5, 2008

Perspectives: Part V

Today, a third grade class at my school learned about the election and the presidential candidates, McCain and Obama. The teacher put a picture of each on the board and asked the students to voice what they know about each candidate, whether it’s true or not. Fundamentally, the students learn about politics, research, and the difference between fact and fiction.

The students eagerly raised their hands, excited to share information. The list for each candidate appeared verbatim as follows:

Barack Obama
Wants to be the first African American president
2 kids (daughters) and wife
Trying to change the world
Tells people why to vote for him
Good man
Born in Africa
His daughters have security guards at school
Cares for his community

Knowing what to say about John McCain proved a teensy bit more difficult...

John McCain
Has 7 houses
Wants to be rich

Ha.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Golden Gate Bridge



I snapped this picture as Ben drove us over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransico. I had three opportunities to get this picture since we missed the correct exit on more than one occasion. Even with the GPS, we missed several key turns throughout our California trip. Thankfully, the 'Stang had a good turning radius and V6 engine for for those necessary U-turns.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Mustang

Ben and I rented a Mustang convertible in California, which totally made the vacation. We rode with the top down everywhere and were, in no way, discreet about our new wheels. That's what cool cars are for – to show off.

Ben gunned the engine whenever possible and nodded his head at passing motorists in less desirable cars. Boys. I multi-tasked by tanning and mapping out directions as we drove from place to place.

We stopped at overlooks to view the picturesque landscapes along Highway 1. At one overlook, we squealed to a stop as Ben slid the Mustang between a row of parked minivans and frazzled parents. Our top was down, the music blared, sunglasses covered our eyes... we were very Hollywood. Moreover, very obnoxious.

We loved it.

The Mustang was, truly, a vacation in itself. For two New Yorkers who don’t drive in the city, we relished the opportunity to drive a car. And, for two small town kids who drove a hybrid and '87 Buick in high school, we loved to cruise in the ‘Stang.



Friday, August 29, 2008

California Coast



The view of the California coast from Highway 1.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lost and Found

Our luggage arrived! I pumped my fists triumphantly in the air. Once again, we won. Us vs. the airline. Us vs. Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsboro, Alabama. We did it. And, just in time for our weekend trip to Kentucky. Whew.

I missed the first drop-off phone call early this afternoon when I was in a meeting on 6th Avenue. I called the mystery number back and hoped that it would be someone, anyone with our luggage. It was, but I missed my chance and he wouldn’t swing by the Upper West Side again until later.

So, I camped out in our apartment a-l-l afternoon and waited. Impatiently. I waited for the clothes that would need to be laundered and repacked. At 8:30pm, the phone rang.

I ran outside and waited on the curb just as a midnight blue minivan squealed around the corner and sped past me. Darn. Suddenly, the driver slammed on the brakes and threw the van into reverse. The side door opened and our luggage fell out!

The driver smiled. I cheered. We high-fived. I thanked him and rolled both suitcases in, very relieved.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Update Soon...

It's 2am on Tuesday and we just returned home from California. Naturally, our luggage did not arrive with us. Oh, the perils of jet setting and vacationing in exotic locales. I will post pictures and stories from our trip this week.

By the way, this is the 100th post for Itty Bitty! A small, yet important feat for me in the blogging world. I planned to write something more fabulous to celebrate the momentuous occasion... oh, well.

All I can muster at this hour is, "Welcome home!"

Friday, August 22, 2008

Neil Still Rules

My parents visited this past weekend. On Thursday AND Friday we joined crowds to sing our favorite songs and dance the nights away at the Neil Diamond concert in Madison Square Garden. Yes, nights. We saw Neil TWO times in TWO days. My dad “accidentally” purchased the same tickets twice. Some might call us crazy, but we prefer “die hard fans.”

I prepared Ben for the concert, for what I knew was coming thanks to seeing Neil perform in Columbus, Ohio eight years ago… an audience with a median age of 55 years and a packed wheelchair section. As expected, not much had changed in almost a decade.

We laughed as the crowd danced to several songs, capitalizing on the opportunity to get the circulation moving again in their legs. Without an intermission, they forwent beer and got their caffeine fix with Coke. With such a tame crowd, we were shocked when someone lit a doobie during “Forever in Blue Jeans.” Who knew?

I suppose Neil assumed that fans rarely attend two concerts in two nights, so he found no reason to improvise and change up his routine. After the first night, we had memorized his act and on the second night we lip synced and pantomimed his every move, even down to his best line for the audience seated behind him, “Did they actually make you pay for these seats?”

Oh, Neil. You are good. “So good, so good.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

View from the Bottom



Looking up from under the stairs at the Apple store on 5th Avenue.

Monday, August 18, 2008

New 'Tude

I’ve now got the ‘tude. The attitude that helps keeps me afloat in the big city. For awhile, I avoided the ‘tude, kept it at bay. But, after time, the ‘tude crept under my skin and in my blood. Now, it owns me.

I walk around the city like I own it, with a straight and unblinking poker face. I walk like a badass. If not, people will chew me up and spit me out. Literally, they will walk all over me… and then take my wallet while I dust myself off.

At first, I felt bad about my new ‘tude. But, now I like it. Where ever I go, I don’t look scared and confused. I look like I own the place. I don’t walk around any neighborhood, with an anxious look on my face. Instead, I stare straight ahead. Sometimes I nod my head at a passing pedestrian and my lips may curve into a little smile. But, only when necessary.

New Yorkers don’t walk around and wave and smile at every person. They’re tough, forward, and pretty badass. Much like my new self.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Riverside Park

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Project Runway

We don’t own a full length mirror, so I depend on Ben to tell me which shoes look better, which purse completes my outfit. I look to him for advice when undecided between two outfits. I rely on his ability to recognize a fashion faux pas.

I thought that I had done a better job.

As we perused the weekend sales at Macys on Saturday, I noticed a trend with the clothes Ben picked out for me. The common thread being that they were all atrocious.

Shirts covered in glitter and sequins. Shorts with a half inch inseam and dresses only to be worn when working the corner. Where did I go wrong?

Apparently, my goal to create a mini (heterosexual) Michael Kors was a wee bit high. Classy and clean just can’t compete with short and flashy. Sigh.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Riverside Park



Ben at Riverside Park along the Hudson River, several blocks from our apartment.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Eye on the Budget

Ben noticed that I stick the budget pretty well. When he says, “We CANNOT spend money.” I listen.

But, when he says, “We’re doing okay”… I see a little room for leniency. The extra cash comes in handy if I find a scarf on sale or a chocolate cupcake in a cafĂ© window. After a “few” small purchases, Ben reels me back in with, “We CANNOT spend any more money.”

But, last night at the grocery store, I saw the budget bend for several of Ben’s whims. When I picked up a carton of organic blackberries for $1.68 to pack in my lunchbox for work, Ben said, “Are you sure we need those? You will eat them, right?”

Yet, when we looked for dinner and compared prices between generic and name brand foods, other items somehow made it into our cart. Like a large jar of pickles for $3.99 and a tub of cottage cheese for $2.99. Suddenly, I couldn’t understand why I got called out for a $1.68 tub of blackberries when Ben, the Budget Master, got to toss whatever he fancied into the basket.

So, I asked him about it.

He nervously laughed and said, “Oh, babe. I was just kidding. You CAN get those blackberries. I just wanted these for snacks.”

Oh, I see. That’s how it works.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Happy Anniversary

On Saturday, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary with dinner at the historic Four Seasons and the Broadway play Spring Awakening. Our night started with a cab ride to the Four Seasons located on 52nd between Park and Lexington. A taxi sounded much nicer than the subway, which retains heat like the Sahara or a sauna this time of year.

We arrived at the Four Seasons where a gentleman opened our cab door and escorted us inside. We walked up a flight of stairs where a host wrote our name, table number, and unbeknownst to us, a note that told our waiter it was our anniversary. On our way to the “romantic corner table”, we walked past an authentic Picasso art piece that stretched from floor to ceiling.

We browsed the menu and wine list, which included copies of photographs that featured former Four Seasons patrons President John F. Kennedy and President Bill Clinton. In 1962, Marilyn Monroe sang her famous rendition of “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy at the Four Seasons.

The dinner was delicious, but more important than the taste, was the way we were treated. The service was incredible. Giuseppe, our waiter, surprised us with strawberry ice cream topped with a one foot tall pink cotton candy tower and a candle on top to celebrate our first year wedding anniversary. Apparently, a lot of the other guests came to celebrate special occasions because almost half of the tables nibbled on mountains of cotton candy.

On Sunday, we woke up and looked at each other. We twirled our rings and smiled at the thought of being not only best friends for life, but partners as well. We’ve done a lot, and it’s been one experience after another. So much has happened as newlyweds in New York. I can only imagine what the upcoming year has in store.

Happy Anniversary!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hannah and Ben

I never posted any pictures from our Fourth of July vacation in Cape Cod. We stayed with our friend, Sarah, and two of her friends at her family's home. I love these three photos of Hannah and Ben. I forget what they laughed about in the car, but it gave me great shots.

Besides my father, Hannah is the most fun person to photograph. She's animated and conveys tons of energy and life through pictures. Plus, I like her big smile.





Monday, July 28, 2008

New York City

I met a guy that moved to New York only two months ago. He mentioned that the move has been harder than originally anticipated. I empathized. Completely.

He described exactly what I went through almost one year ago, the feelings and emotions of despondency that lasted seven months. Seven looooong months as I searched for jobs, interviewed at places, and stuffed my face with nachos as I watched Ellen, Oprah, and very bad made-for-TV movies.

Oh, I did start this blog when unemployed. That was a bright moment.

My mom mentioned that even when she knew I was down, I always sounded happy and excited in my stories. I told her that’s the mark of a good writer… or liar. Unfortunately for me, probably the latter.

Anymore, I forget the feelings of loneliness and frustration that accompanied returned resumes with a “sorry, but…” attached to it. I even forget that New York made me pay hundreds of dollars to retake state exams because of no state reciprocity with, well, basically anywhere. Now, all I can remember is the excitement and rush of moving to New York City with the man of my dreams, the anticipation of starting something new in one of the wildest cities in the world.

The girl that I was then is not the same person that I am now. My view of New York has changed for the better, and I get to do and see things that would be impossible somewhere else – hidden restaurants, Broadway plays, celebrities, public transportation, any food any time. It’s all an experience.

My advice to the new guy was to just hang in there because it gets better. At least, I can say, it got much, much better for me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lip in the Slammer

On Sunday, we met friends at a German/Czechoslovakian beer garden in Queens for lunch. One friend recently started working at Riker’s Island, a New York City prison, as a case manager in the women’s facility. Naturally, he had FABULOUS stories to share.

The best stories involved the inmates giving him lip. Apparently, his blonde hair and blue eyes do little to scare the women he interviews at the prison. They tell him he either looks yummy or like a Backstreet Boy. One particular lady always has a line for him, and this one is my personal favorite.

“Boy, you’re shirt is so tight it gonna give you an asthma attack.”

As my kids would at school would say… snap.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

History Lesson



Last week, my family visited me in NYC and we hiked to every pricey tourist attraction. When we visited the Statue of Liberty we decided to forgo the eight bucks for the guided tour casette tape, and instead opted to just walk around it. Aunt Patty evenutally succombed to thirst in the 90 degree heat and paid (most likely) an obscene amount of money for a bottled water. Luckily for us, they printed "All You Need To Know About the Statue of Liberty" on the back - saving us mucho money.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Billy Joel

As expected, the Billy Joel concert at Shea Stadium was incredible. Five guest performers wowed the audience - Tony Bennett, Roger Daltrey from The Who, Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, Garth Brooks, and Paul McCartney from The Beatles. Only in New York City would an event this amazing happen.

Billy Joel performed nonstop for three and a half hours and sent the crowd into a frenzy during "We Didn't Start The Fire" and "Captain Jack". The entire stadium swayed as partyers danced. I got a little nervous as we watched the overhang that covered our section of the bleachers bounce up and down. My anxiousness was well founded considering we sat second row from the top of the stadium.

Oveall, the concert was awesome. I can now say that I officially saw a Beatle perform. Amazing.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Jealous Yet?

Just wanted to inform everyone that we are on our way to sing and dance like crazy FOOLS at the Billy Joel concert at Shea Stadium. It will be quite a historic event, only eight bands have ever played at Shea including the Beatles.

Last night, to prepare for the big event, Ben and I attempted to memorize all the lyrics to "We Didn't Start the Fire". You can imagine how well that went. I felt like I was cramming for the GRE again as I tried to pronounce and commit foreign words to memory. Ben lightened the mood by serenading me with "She's Got A Way".

After listening to Billy Joel nonstop all week on our iPods, we are definitely ready. Wish you were here...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Family Visit

I have a good reason for the lack of posts since Friday… family visit to NYC. Five female family members traveled 900 miles to share in the adventures the Big Apple has to offer. They left me in their wake this morning at 6am – exhausted and happy.

Many funny moments happened throughout their 2.5 day visit and we covered so much ground – the Empire State building, Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Brooklyn Bridge, Union Square, bus tours in the day, bus tours at night, Battery Park, Broadway, Times Square, and Central Park. Hence, the lack of time (and energy) to post new stories.

Aunt Patty, constantly amazed by the city, was even more fascinated by the massive amount of PDA (public display of affection) found in Central Park. She couldn’t help but point out the park goers that indulged in some good old fashioned make out sessions. Anonymity, a perk the big city offers.

We strolled past a young couple as the woman straddled the man’s back and massaged him while he lay face down on the blanket. I pointed them out to Aunt Patty, who gasped and with widened eyes exclaimed, “I can’t believe people do that in public!”

Marilyn then stated, “You know, that’s what they call foreplay.”

To which I turned to Aunt Patty and asked if that’s what she did to rouse my uncle.

“No, no. You do that and then they always want more,” she said as she continued to make sense of the situation. Finally, Aunt Patty declared, “She MUST be a chiropractor.”

Friday, July 11, 2008

Genes


Luckily, I inherited the best genes from my parents. I got my mom's temper, levelheadedness, sweetness, her ability to emphasize with others. I got my dad's sense of humor, outgoing personality, and crazy laugh that my grandpa passed to my dad and then to me.

I'm not bragging on myself, just my parents.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Perspectives: Part IV

Some people spend lots of money on toys for kids – the bigger, brighter, and flashier… the better. Ironically, kids like the cardboard box more than the toy. Or, they lose interest in something that allows them little use of their imagination. My nephew’s Christmas list from last year best sums up this idea. He wanted a broom, a cape, and a cardboard box.

Some kids get older and the simplest things still make them happy… like a first grader on my caseload.

I asked him what he was most excited for about his upcoming field trip to Central Park. I expected him to tell me about the merry go round, the jungle gym, the picnic lunch, anything normal.

Instead, he gave me a new perspective.

“I can’t wait to walk through the tunnel by the trees because I’m going to show my whole class the homeless man that lives there,” he said earnestly. “He eats and sleeps there!”

Swings, slides, and sprinklers are sooooooooooo overrated when you live in New York City.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Rock Star

My boss hosted a party at her apartment in Hoboken, NJ several Saturdays ago. My favorite part of the evening was not the Manhattan skyline at sunset or the incomprehensible 1,400 square feet of living space. Rather, it was the Wii game “Guitar Hero”.

Normally, I would have refrained from making a fool of myself in front of coworkers, but after a glass (or two) of wine it became my civic duty to entertain and perform the best rock concert humanly possible. As soon as I strummed the first note, energy surged from within and stirred emotions not tapped during a routine workday.

I basked in the cheers and chants that erupted behind me as I hit note after note and ripped sweet rifts. I became one with the plastic guitar; one with the music. I had finally found my calling… a rock star reborn to play “Slow Ride” over and over and over. (How did my parents miss my music potential?).

As a true artist, my musical skills extended far beyond the realm of just playing guitar. I incorporated vocals with notes so high that the Wilson sisters only wished they could hit. I rocked Mississippi Queen and Barracuda. I really upped my performance with a few body rolls and guitar thrusts. Ben ensured me that the thrusts really added to the overall quality of the show.

Speech therapy will do for now. I know I’m no Leslie West, but it’s comforting to have a fallback plan.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Beau


Beau loves dad. Dad loves Beau. The feeling is mutual. Although, I'm pretty sure when I took this picture my dad mouthed, "Who's the dominant dog now?"



Beau, an Austrailian Shepard, has been with my family since we first crossed the Mason Dixon line and moved to the south in 1998. He is playful and sweet - although my husband, my neighbor Kyle, and the mailman disagree.

Beau protects his home and herds visitors like sheep, which isn't too scary if you don't mind a few nips on the ankles from a strange dog with big teeth. He used to get a little too, ahem, excited around visitors, but with old age (like many things) that habit faded. Here's to you, Beau!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

School Days

Thursday, of last week, was the final day of school before summer. The last day at a place I love. A tiny school nestled between housing complexes and a sketchy corner store that sells everything from dougnuts and coffee to a few things not found at the local Duane Reade.

I remember my interview (fifth that week) for the school. The desperation to find a job resounded in my voice. My outlook was bleak. I arrived at the front office sweaty and frazzled, a product of hopping on one subway and several wrong buses. I flopped down in the only available chair and prayed that this school would be nice to this small town Kentuckian because I couldn’t handle more rejection or disappointment. I was like Goldilocks that week – one school was too scary, one school was too far, one school was too crazy. Then, I met everyone at this school and found it just right.

Some of my kids come from nice homes and happy families. Some come from foster care and parents that work three jobs. But, it’s pretty hard to tell the difference. The school comforts and supports them, gives them the chance to develop into the people they can be when not pushed and beaten down by outside forces.

I was sad on Thursday. Sad to wave goodbye to the brightly painted murals. Sad to say goodbye to an amazing principal and staff. Sad to wave goodbye to the boys with toothy smiles and the girls with tiny braids. I love the students. I love the teachers. I love my little, sweet school and I can’t wait to return next year.

Monday, June 30, 2008

I'm Back

It’s been an incredibly busy week... hence, the lack of posts. Fortunately, I can now unwind and review posts that I wrote last week, but didn’t have time to edit. Then it’s off to Cape Cod for the weekend. Geez, I’ve got it rough.

Lots happened last week. So much happened, in fact, that I ran on six hours of sleep a night instead of my standard eight. And, that did not always make a happy camper.

On Tuesday evening, I joined friends at Central Park for a free concert by the New York Philharmonic. I took one of Ben’s large blue folding chairs that can be carried like a backpack because it had rained earlier that day. The chair is big on Ben, so it basically ate me when I put it on.

I went into Duane Reade (with chair on back) to get snacks for the concert and totally knocked out an elderly couple as I cleared a shelf of products. Tourists in buses snapped pictures of me as I blazed a trail up Broadway and flattened throngs of pedestrians and strollers that got in my way. The giant chair embarrassed me, but I knew the humiliation would be worth it once I got to the park and didn’t have to sit on wet grass. As it turned out, the rain never touched Central Park and the ground was dry. Typical.

On Wednesday night, Ben burst through the front door after a three day business trip and excitedly announced that an almost new micro-suede couch sat on the curb one block from our house. After living in the city for almost a year, I immediately grasped the gravity of the situation and we headed down the street. I inspected the couch as Ben gathered the couch’s history from the building’s doorman. Who previously owned it? Why did they toss it? Did they have pets? Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Then Ben realized the couch came with a twin size hideaway bed. Jackpot! Decision made. We hauled the couch off the curb and carried it home, where it now sits perpendicular to the floor and on its side until we decide which couch to keep – the Craigslist couch or the curb couch. Either way we’ll sell one and make some extra cash. Hopefully.

On Thursday, I survived the last day of school at both my Upper East Side and Harlem schools, a true feat. An achievement that tells the world “I worked full time in the New York City public school system and lived to tell about it.” Something that I will always refer back to when trying to one-up somebody.

We also managed to fly out of LaGuardia airport on Thursday night to make it home for a wedding that I was in over the weekend. When our plane landed in Louisville, I breathed a sigh of relief, happy that the week’s chaos was behind us and we could finally relax and enjoy the wedding weekend. Unbeknownst to me, the next morning, my crown would pop off my tooth and hit the mirror as I flossed my teeth before the bridesmaids’ luncheon. Ay yiy yiy.

Life is never boring. Never.
This might be the first time I have ever said this…
But, thank God it’s Monday.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Different Kind of View

Snapped a picture of my flip-flops. They looked so warm and happy
as they basked in the afternoon sun at Central Park.

* I posted this picture with my readers' health in mind. Weak stomachs couldn't handle the picture of Ben and I - two albinos stranded admidst a sea of tan bodies. We reflected (rather than absorbed) the sun's rays that day.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Perspectives: Part III

Some kids are just extra cute. They’re cuddly and their parents wiggle them into colorful outfits with matching hair bows and socks. They're always polite, well mannered, and love to do their best. These kids bombard me when I enter the classroom. They sit on my lap and hug me, excited to show me the good work they’ve done.

I work with a lot of kids like those.

And, I work with a few kids who are all that and a little bit more.

As I helped one of my favorite little girls, she leaned against my arm and exclaimed, “Your arm cold.”

I replied, “You’re right. My arm is cold.” (Squeezing in that opportunity to stress the usage of a verb).

“It cold and shaky,” she said as she jiggled the fat of my underarm for the entire class to see.

Ah, yes, it cold and shaky.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Perspectives: Part II

Leave it to an innocent kindergartener to put me in my place.

I worked with a new student and informally assessed his knowledge of core kindergarten concepts - one being “colors”. He named the color of his shirt, my shirt, his pants, my pants, his shoes, my shoes, his hair, and then… my hair.

His assessment? (Never mind the multi-tonal highlights my stylist strategically places throughout my head to create natural depth and contrast).

“Black with a little yellow. Yes, black with yellow.”

Ouch.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Deja Vu

Yesterday morning, Ben yelled “Get a paper towel!” I immediately knew what was up. I grabbed a paper towel and skidded across the floor where he waited, poised and ready to strike. Or so I thought. I should have known better.

I thrust the paper towel in his hand and narrowed my eyes at the spider that treaded across the wall, inches from the pillow on the bed. I encouraged Ben with a high school cheer. I built up his confidence and waited for him to bravely squash that spider. I waited for him to make me proud, restore the confidence lost the last time we encountered a bug in the apartment.

He eyed the spider (timidly) and struck. He reeled back with a triumphant smile and held the squished paper towel out to me. I shook my head.

Ben wheeled back around and we watched the spider trot away behind my side of the bed.

“I thought I had it,” he said (rather unconvincingly).

“You were five inches to the right of it,” I said.

“Oh. I really thought I had it.”

“Yeah, right,” I said. “Now it’ll crawl into our clothes chest and have babies. We’ll probably swallow it tonight when sleeping…” I continued, scaring Ben into action for the next time. “Actually, it will probably bite our face and lay eggs under our skin where baby spiders will burst out of our skin when hit by a ball.” It happened to a kid in our high school, so my prediction was not totally unfounded. And, he knew it.

“Oh, man. I should have tried harder,” Ben said. Unfortunately, the waver in his voice and the twitching corners of his mouth told me otherwise.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Field Trip

Today, I accompanied my kindergartners on their field trip to the zoo. My favorite exhibit involved two frisky prairie dogs that humped for two minutes straight and the twenty five children that watched with wonder and excitement.

“They really like each other!”

“They’re friends!”

“Look, they’re playing with each other!” (Not an entirely wrong generalization).

When one child asked me to elaborate on the rendezvous, the only answer I could muster after hours in the hot sun chasing five year olds was, “Watch Animal Planet.”

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bonds

Wedding season has started. We attended our first of four, potentially six, weddings this past weekend. With each glass of wine or champagne I, naturally, became a better conversationalist and blabbed about the surprises and charm of married life.

I think Ben appreciated what I shared. If I recall, it went a little like this…

The first few weeks, months actually, felt like we were still dating. The ring was on my finger, we both crawled under the same sheets, but it felt like we were just enjoying an extended weekend visit.

Lately, I’ve noticed a gradual change. It’s a bond of stability and trust that continually grows stronger. No matter what, I always have a partner in life, someone that will always be there. If I lose my job, sleep with a side ponytail, forget to trim my toenails and pluck my eyebrows, or wake up with the folds of our bed sheets imprinted on my face, … he’s still there (not that any of those things would ever happen to me). We’re allies. Buddies. Partners.

I have someone to meet after work, hold hands with on Saturdays, and share every (and I mean every single, minute detail) with for the rest of my life. With every wedding we attend this summer, the ceremony and vows they make mean more and excite me for our future.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Anonymous

In grad school, I got a pink and white canvas bag with my name stitched in hot pink and job title printed in neon green on the side. Cute, girlie, monogrammed – definitely, a southern thing.

People complimented the bag back home. But, then again, people at home exude southern warmth and charm. Chances are slim that they’ll mug me during my morning commute, steal my bag, and then use the monogrammed information to steal my identity.

The bag, I finally decided, is not for New York City. I’ve realized that announcing my name and occupation to random strangers on my trek to work is not good.

I used it for the first time on Monday. I slung it over my shoulder as I walked out the door. I fiddled with the volume on my IPod and walked past a group of men. One whistled and then loudly said, “Good morning, sweet _________ (insert my first name here along with several other descriptive, yet moderately sensual adjectives).” Not so good.

On Tuesday, I squished onto the bus in Harlem. The bag sat on my lap, my name and occupation boldly faced outward. The hot pink print sparkled in the morning sun amid the sea of black and brown bags. A female voice a couple of seats down, apparently not dazzled, grumbled “What the #!@$ is an SLP?” Not so good again.

On Thursday, I swiped my metro card at the subway turnstile and jetted down the stairs to catch the train. As I hopped down the last step, I dodged a homeless man on the corner who personalized his request. “Money, money… I need money, ___________ (once again, my first name).”

Everyone from pervy construction workers to grumpy women to homeless men knew me by name. So much for anonymity in the city.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Work Out

As I brushed my teeth in front of the bathroom mirror, an odd noise came from the other end of the apartment, grunts and heavy breathing. Even the hum of my electric Sonacare toothbrush couldn’t drown out the sound.

I poked my head around the corner to find my husband pumping iron. He stood and puffed out his chest like a glistening statue of bulging biceps and steel pecs. Kinda, sort of… well, almost.

He rooted himself in front of the mirror, strategically under the recessed lighting, and watched his muscles grow with each rep of the 20lb dumbbells. A recent purchase from Kmart. I never knew a mini Hulk Hogan loomed behind that slender 6’3 frame.

He caught my eye, winked, and laughed. I rolled my eyes and spit out the remaining toothpaste that I managed not to choke on. Fifteen seconds later I heard footsteps. He squeezed behind me in the bathroom and flipped the extra light switch. Because it’s all about the lighting.

He turned side to side, flexed his muscles, rolled his shoulders, tightened his stomach, and then dabbed his forehead with the washcloth.

“Babe, look at my muscles. Just look at them! They’re huge. Woo!”

“You just bought those weights and you lifted them for almost 45 seconds,” I reminded him. Honestly, did he think that 12 reps would do that much? Apparently, yes. Yes, he did.

“Babe, please. I’m huge, and I’m only going to get bigger.”

And, after only being married for nine and half months, I’ve learned what to say in a situation like this…

“Of course.”

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Returning to New York

It was different this time when I left home and flew back to New York after Spring Break. I sort of felt it in the airplane as we landed, just a little. Then, I felt it again in the taxi on the ride home from the airport. It was a feeling, an emotion that I hadn’t felt before in New York City… relief and happiness, a kind of happiness to be back in New York.

For me, that’s huge. A big step toward considering New York more of a home as opposed to just some huge, overly crowded, expensive city that I must survive for the next few years. The transition from home to the city proved more difficult than anticipated, and finally a sense of relief and belonging welcomed me.

I slumped in the backseat of the taxi, weighted down by my 51.75 pound suitcase, and watched the trees in Central Park melt into one green blur. Some of the streets, some of the buildings looked familiar. The incessant car honks and people yelling oddly comforted me. The bright lights of restaurants and store windows cast shadows on the sidewalks that danced and excited me. For one second, I understood, I got why people fall in love with New York. For a brief instant, I finally felt connected to a place that had left me yearning for home since August.

The feeling didn’t last long. Or, it lasted until another car cut off my taxi which prompted my driver to let out a three sentence slew of cuss words in a foreign language. He then retaliated and swerved so violently to the right that a biker was forced to jump the curb and nearly sail into a metal street lamp.

I don’t consider New York my home… yet. But, I can sort of feel it growing on me. I can see it coming. Like the longer I stay the harder it may actually be to leave one day. For the first time, New York and I are seeing eye-to-eye. We are working out our differences and, like springtime, ready to begin anew.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunday Afternoon

I took this picture of Ben after we ate the biggest BBQ meal ever at a restaurant called Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem. We tried to walk home, but crashed on the lawn at Columbia University. Our stomachs were so full that my back hurt from waddling and the button on my jeans left a permanent imprint on my stomach. Ben slipped into a food coma shortly after this picture.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Oh No, Not Again...

I got blood drawn last Sunday in Morehead. Of course, my mom and Aunt Dorothy accompanied me. Lord knows, I needed the support. Literally, like an extra set of arms to catch me before I hit the floor. Ugh, I hate needles.

I slid in the plastic maroon chair at St. Claire, my mom and Aunt Dorothy a few feet away, and twirled my hair into tiny knots to distract myself. This was my third time since December to have blood work done. Shouldn’t I be used to it? A little tougher? Slightly braver? The perspiration that beaded on my forehead suggested otherwise. I just thanked God that I didn’t recognize the lab technician… in a small town the likelihood that we would have been high school classmates or second cousins was dangerously high.

The lab technician swabbed my arm with an alcohol pad while I wished I had some alcohol in my system. One brewski would have hardly affected the results, my liver is young. She inserted the needle. I tried to breathe, imagine a happy place, and be a big girl. I just couldn’t.

Seconds after she finished, I saw spots. My stomach churned. I got light headed. My knees turned weak.

We walked out into the hallway and then it hit me. I slowly sank down and sprawled out like a limp starfish on the first floor in the main entrance of our town’s only hospital. My mom, a nurse there, held my hand and encouragingly whispered… “When you can stand, let’s make a run for it.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Perspectives: Part I

I leaned against the wall at the therapy gym where I work in the evenings, and joined the other therapists in conversation. We chatted about Spring Break plans when one therapist mentioned that he will travel to Louisiana to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Interested, I asked him to continue.

He had visited New Orleans in 2005 after the hurricane and witnessed the destruction Katrina wreaked on not only the city, but its people. I thought about the great perspective he will get from visiting then and now.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I mean, most people have been living in trailers for three years,” he cried incredulously. “Three years!”

The other therapists nodded in agreement, shaking their heads.

“Can you imagine living in a trailer for three years?” he asked, totally stressing the word ‘imagine’.

I stood dumbfounded and highly amused. City folk.

“Actually, yes, I can. I’m from Kentucky. Trailers… they’re pretty common.”

Roger looked at me, slightly shocked.

“Oh,” he said slowly. “Oops.”

It ain’t all skyscrapers and high rises, baby.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Urban Breeze

On Thursday evening, Ben and I celebrated the warm weather with dessert... fruit smoothies. Ben geared up for a mission and grabbed his apron, blender, and cleaver. He moved around the kitchen with a certain, um, finesse, and threw random fruits from the fridge in the blender.

Meanwhile, I relaxed on the couch with my feet propped up on the stepstool and daydreamed of myself with a great tan as Ben sweated above the blender and furiously googled smoothie ingredient ratios, determined to make his first two smoothies a success.

Upon completion of his edible masterpiece, Ben served two strawberry and banana smoothies in frosted pint glasses. We sipped and savored our drinks as the fresh (my standards have changed) city air cleansed our apartment. With our hands wrapped around two neon orange koozies, we decided that summer can’t come soon enough.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Bedtime

I was unemployed for three months and semi-unemployed for four months. During those seven months, I didn’t have a bedtime. I flitted around the apartment with the lights on and radio cranked up to the highest volume. I coaxed Ben into 8pm movies, 9pm infomercials, and 10pm television shows. I flipped through magazines under the bedside lamp until midnight and annoyed Ben as I hid under the covers and text messaged friends, played Tetris. When asked what the beeping noises were, I always responded with, “Beeping noises? What beeping noises? I don’t hear anything.” Ben complained that my erratic night schedule made it difficult for him to fall sleep and even more difficult for him to wake up in the morning for work. Pfff, I thought.

But, oh, how the times have changed since getting a job at two schools and a sensory gym. I follow a strict nighttime routine. Clock work. Pajamas on and teeth brushed by 9:30pm, comfortably nestled in bed by 9:45pm, and lights turned off by 10pm. I settled into this routine while Ben was away on business in London. He left a night owl and returned to a sergeant of bedtime boot camp.

Last night, at 10pm, the TV still blared in the background. I rolled over and gently, kindly reminded Ben that it was time for bed. He acted surprised and timidly asked if he could continue to watch his show. I shook my head. I can’t bring home the bacon without a little shuteye.

Ben sighed, defeated. He turned off the TV and tossed the remote on the nightstand.

Times have changed. I’m a working woman now.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spring Is Here


This photo makes me smile. I took it one evening at a flower stand just a short walk from our apartment. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Paging Dr. Ben


My throat itched, my body ached, my arm hairs hurt, and my head pounded. It felt like the beginnings of the flu. Ugh.

I lay in bed, buried beneath a mountain of blankets as Ben googled the warning signs of deadly diseases. He yelled my name every ten seconds and raced across the apartment in fear that my symptoms resembled cholera, Scarlet Fever, or some strange disease contracted through the dirty hands of public school children.

(He exaggerates situations… just a teeny bit. but I secretly love it.)

He fretted and fussed over me, brought me Crystal Light lemonade and repeatedly tucked the blanket under my feet. I told him that eased the pain.

I whimpered that my mom and dad used to check the back of my throat with a flashlight to rule out strep. Ben grabbed the next best light source available – the TV remote control. He pressed the remote, lit up the buttons, and had me say “ah”. Somehow, he hypothesized, the red glow from the buttons would illuminate any white patches in my throat.

I definitely married the best.

What other man could demonstrate such empathy, impromptu preparedness, and MacGyver-esque thinking? No one that I know.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sweet Kicks

Last night, I interviewed for a third job to work in the evenings after my school job. As I walked home, I crossed paths with a homeless man who casually cleaned his fingernails and tossed the clippings on the ground. He leaned against his shopping cart, a cart so large and densely packed it nearly barricaded the sidewalk. His biceps have to be huge from pushing that mammoth, strapped mound of junk around the neighborhood.

I surveyed his treasures as I walked by when suddenly the sweetest pair of retro Reeboks caught my eye. I did a double take. Where did he finagle those? A pair in mint condition that begged to be worn with a chic outfit from my closet.

He glanced up. I shifted my gaze downward. I almost muttered something like “nice shoes”, but didn’t want any exchange of communication to be mistaken as a request to be stuffed and buried in his cart (possibly with some other Upper West Side residents).

I shook my head and walked on. Three jobs and I can’t afford those shoes. No job and he can cram more possessions in that cart than we can shove in our tiny apartment. Something is wrong with the world when a homeless man on the corner sports cooler tennis shoes and more property than me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ridin' In Style


On Saturday night, we traveled from the Lower East Side to the Upper West Side in style… a black stretch limo with tinted windows and a personal driver named “Donnie”. Since getting a job, we’ve really stepped it up. Forget taxis, subways, and buses. Move over Donald Trump. We roll with the bigwigs now.

We left a restaurant and patiently waited outside for a cab despite the subzero temperatures and beginning signs of frostbite. Yet, no yellow beacons of light appeared. Finally, Ben caught sight of a “gypsy” limo and hailed it over to our corner. The driver rolled down his window, asked for our destination, and then unlocked the door to our salvation.

Everyone climbed in and stretched out on a leather seat while “after hours” mood lighting faded from purple to green to blue. Although Donnie played fun tunes that we sang along to, he failed to stock his ride with refreshments for the weary, thirsty stragglers he found on New York City streets and sidewalks.

When we arrived at our street, Donnie straddled the limo diagonally over one corner, barely missing a group of four guys. Ben and I hopped out, tickled that we rode home in a limo. Across the street, the group of guys slowed down and pointed at us.

“They think we’re famous because of the limo,” Ben said. “Shield your face.”

We covered our faces with a free hand, ran across the street, and pretended that the attention embarrassed us. I cursed myself for not having any sunglasses to shield me from the growing number of paparazzi.

The limo paid for itself.

Friday, March 14, 2008

I arrived at school Monday morning and waited in the front office on a bench just five feet from a table that overflowed with doughnuts, candy, cookies, and coffee. As I waited to meet the school's speech therapists, my stomach churned nervously... or, maybe, just in hunger from the Kristy Kreme doughnuts and chocolate bars which teased me. Clearly, the plain bagel I ate on the bus was not enough.

The little boy next to me, apparently, couldn't resist the display of enriched, deep-fried white flour and icing (a definite staple of his diet). Each time the secretary swiveled around in her chair, he darted across the room and stole a doughnut or handful of Skittles. After his fourth trip, he licked his fingers, raised his eyes, and rotated toward me.

"What are you here for?" he asked.

"I have a meeting with one of the speech teachers," I said in a teacher-like tone, one which established my credibility and authority.

He looked me up and down with an expression of pity and understanding. "I get it," he said. "You got a speech problem too."

Oh, so much to look forward to.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

First Day

Tomorrow is the start of a new day, week, month, and life. I begin my first job in New York City as a speech therapist. I triumphantly pump my fists in the air and cheer, “Yes, yes, yes!”

My bank account eagerly awaits the deposit of my first check while I anticipate the first day at school as an employee. No longer do I wander the streets of New York as a jobless, slightly depressed college graduate. I now proudly march through the Upper West Side with my head a little higher, my step a little lighter, and my husband immensely relieved. No more will I sit at home and eat away our savings... literally, eating away our savings.

Originally, I secured a job at a middle and high school in the Bronx. But, I decided to look for a new job because the start date kept getting pushed back. And back. And back. Luckily, another opportunity presented itself. A local contract company found my resume online and asked me to work for them as an independent contractor. This past week I interviewed at four elementary schools throughout Manhattan (hence, the small number of blog posts).

After an exhausting week of nonstop travel, interviews, and frayed nerves – I signed a contract on Friday to work for two schools in Manhattan. I will work three days at one school and two days at the other.

Think of me tomorrow morning as I report to school armed with a newly laminated NYC Board of Education ID and booklet of instructions. I will be the employee with a very large smile on my face... the one very happy to have a job.

Tomorrow is the beginning of my new career. Yes, yes, yes!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Melissa

Melissa and her Manhattan
Ben and I grilled steak and chicken kabobs for our friends, Melissa and Chris, last weekend. In December, they cooked a delicious Paula Deen recipe that used bacon and brown sugar.
We all agreed - bacon makes everything better.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Real Winner

I usually don’t attract winners… with the one exception of my husband. I emit some sort of pheromone, a frequency wave that draws weirdoes to me. Some girls get the men with good looks, humor, and intelligence. I reel in every wacko within a three mile radius.

I squeezed onto the subway with a tidal wave of students just released from school. I hovered and gripped the bar above a crowded bench. I flipped my jacket collar up and nonchalantly swung my hair around in an attempt to look both New York chic and oblivious to the crush of backpacks. **

I glanced downward and unfortunately met the gaze of a man in his mid-forties. He smiled and wiggled his fingers. I nodded with no smile.

“Miss, miss. Psssst.”

I turned toward him.

“I like your hair. It’s pretty.” Then he demonstrated his approval with a sweeping hand gesture.

I do like my hair and tend to believe that it is one of my best assets when cut by a good stylist, but I just ran four blocks in the rain without an umbrella to catch the subway. My hair looked more like a wet dog's fur than a Breck Shampoo ad.

I looked up, suddenly interested in an advertisement that promised a doctoral degree and the opportunity to research cures for cancer for just $10,000. Yeah, I could do that. I could apply, take out a loan, study full time, save the world…

“Miss, miss. Can I have your number?” He pretended to dial and talk on an imaginary phone.

I felt people redirect their gaze and divert their attention to us, to our verbal/nonverbal conversation.

My cheeks reddened as I shook my head “no.”

“But, maybe, we…”

“I’m married,” I said in a flat tone.

“Still, we could…”

I sighed heavily to signal the finality of my answer and express annoyance of having the craziest man in the car pick me. Not the cuter girl to my left or the one with curly hair behind me, but me.

In August, when I first moved here, I would have responded nicely, but I quickly learned that New York men miss dropped hints. They require a direct “yes” or “no” response. Ahem, case-in-point.

The door opened at the 72nd stop. I filed out and trudged up the stairs with slightly lower self-esteem wondering "why me". Why me?


** Upon the recent knowledge of being neighbors with Frances McDormand and Joel Coen, I feel it necessary to look my best at all times with the hope that we casually meet in the neighborhood whereas he decides that I am perfect for the next big role in his upcoming movie. First impressions only happen once.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Coach


I played softball in elementary school, but the handstand contests we orchestrated in the outfield distracted us from catching any fly balls. In fifth grade, a teammate passed me the ball during an intramural basketball game, which I dribbled down the court for a lay-up and missed the only shot I took the entire season. I cheered in high school, but rarely mustered the courage to flip my way across concrete gym floors. My athletic side struggled to take root. I struggled to shine as an all-star athlete.

Now, years later, my time has come.

The athletics coordinator at the school where I substitute teach needed a faculty member to accompany the eighth grade boys basketball team, along with the head coach, to their away games. Administration asked me if I wanted to do it. I hesitated, reflected on my athletic past. What coaching advice would I have to offer? Then they mentioned additional pay, so I dusted off my old tracksuit and dug out the sweatbands.

I schmoozed Coach D on the bus ride to the first game. I proclaimed that basketball rules in my home state, that we bleed blue. I expressed a love for basketball, listened to the team’s stats, winning record. Game stuff.

After the 45 minute ride to the game in Queens, Coach D liked me. So much, in fact, that he made me “Assistant Coach”. Lord knows, I am not assistant coach material. But, what the heck, why not reinvent myself, become the sporty girl I never was, and take him up on the offer.

I take my duties seriously as assistant coach. I attend all games, ride the bus, and oversee the team warm-up with Coach D. I sit on the bench, squeeze in the team huddle during every time out, and shove my hand in the middle when we break and yell “hard work” or “go team”. Coach D introduces me to the opposing team’s coaching staff as “Assistant Coach” and after I line up with our team to slap hands, I shake the coaches’ hands at the end of game. I usually throw in a “good game” with a head nod. I take my new role seriously.

I’ve noticed my self-esteem slowly looking up, a bounce in my step. If only my classmates could see me now… Assistant Coach. They’d be amazed. Literally, amazed.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cold Morning

I sensed freezing temperatures when I repositioned my head on the pillow this morning. The new spot I nuzzled radiated no warmth, no invitation to snuggle. I located the closest heat source, Ben, and wiggled my cold feet between his.

Reason number 999 to get married: the only free and eco-friendly way to heat chilly sheets. Just one drawback - complaints by Ben when ambushed by icy extremities.

The alarm screeched at 6:30am. I prodded Ben’s back and reminded him to shower first – all part of a bigger plan. If he showers first it warms the bathroom and kitchen with steam so that when I run, yes run, to the shower, chances of loosing extremities to frostbite decrease.

The forecast for tomorrow calls for a high of 27 degrees. Brrrr. Oh well, I’m not worried. I know a toasty body will be only a few inches away.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cooties


I stepped into the 2 express train on a mission to meet Ben in Times Square, and was surprised to find the subway car empty during the 5pm Friday night rush. Well, almost empty, with the exception of three strange men.

I selected a seat near their group. As I hovered above the seat and started to sit down, eyes averted from the male passengers, one of them shouted.

“Watch out! That guy has cooties!”

I froze, stood upright, and stepped back. My response sent the men into fits of laughter.

“You hesitated! She hesitated, Vern. We got her!”

Of course, I HESITATED. I want to live a healthy, long life. To not have people question the cause of my death, with someone having to say, “Oh, it’s really too bad. The cooties got her.”

At home, cooties are harmless and contracted from cute, little boys on playgrounds that chase even cuter, little girls. But, not here, not in New York City, hundreds of feet underground in a dimly lit subway car where a strange man in his mid-forties has cooties, which only means a number of things to a small town girl. None of which are pleasant. At best, some untreatable disease transmitted by a sneeze, cough, or slight brush of the hand.

I summoned my best southern manners, smiled weakly, and gracefully sat down on the orange plastic seat.

“Don’t worry. He doesn’t have cooties. We were just kidding.”

Really, oh, thank God. Somehow I missed the humor in that joke. I rubbed my insurance card between my fingers, wondered what battery of tests a hospital uses to check for cooties, and mapped out the quickest route to the nearest clinic.

I stood when my destination arrived. The men waved goodbye; one winked and shot me a thumbs up sign. I walked onto the platform, thankful to see Ben’s smiling face, knowing I married someone cootie-free.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I Have A Job! I Think...


I have a job! Wait, wait… don’t adjust your computer screen. This is the right blog. You did read the first sentence correctly. Put down the nitroglycerin, Dad. I am going to use my degrees and contribute financially to our marriage! Geez, even I have to reread it to believe it.

Any day now, I will "therapize" students at a middle and high school in New York City. Ben ordered my Michele Pfeiffer leather jacket while I danced with a contract in hand. My textbooks excitedly shook off collected dust from months of nonuse; my subway card squealed at the thought of being swiped. I'm going to ride the D train toward my future!

People ask me if I will miss not working, my free time. I’ll miss the choice to sleep later; definitely miss my coworkers at the private school where I substitute teach. But, I won’t miss hours of alone time, reruns on TV, daily walks around the city alone, job applications, tight finances, afternoons waiting for Ben, and limited opportunities to meet people.

I keep my fingers crossed, toes too. I pray that everything works out as planned, that I'll soon be employed. Actually, let me say that again… e-m-p-l-o-y-e-d.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

DVDs & Day Spas

Our DVD player broke this weekend and sent Ben into a tizzy. My explanation that cheap, Wal-Mart electronics cannot sustain regular beatings eluded Ben. Problems started to brew six months ago when he would knock around the DVD player, but nurse his TV like a newborn baby. “Where’s the special cloth to clean the screen? Don’t put your cup so close to base! Press the buttons gently, gently.” Yesterday, the DVD player had enough when he ripped the cords out in anger, yelled profanities, and then expected it to work. Electronics have feelings too.

Last night, we ventured to Circuit City to price check their selection of DVD players. Ben posed questions as we perused the aisles. Do we need an HD up-converter? Will Blu-Ray replace HD DVD? Will On Demand movies eventually replace DVDs all together?

Yikes. He may as well talk politics in Yiddish or serve artichoke hearts for dessert. I don’t like electronics. I don’t know about electronics. And, honestly, I don’t care to learn. I have no qualms as long as the exterior color matches everything else and I only have to push a few buttons to make it work. No high tech gadgetry or fancy codes for me, thank you.

I strategically wandered away from Ben and his barrage of questions to a small room which boasted a centrally located massage chair and where speakers covered the walls. Not sure which item they wanted to sell – the speakers or the chair. I had just entered Circuit City's very own day spa. I wiggled deep into the black leather as the massager kneaded my shoulders and the oldies pulsated in the background. The stress of comparing overpriced pieces of plastic melted away, along with every other worry in my life.

I then decided that my appreciation for electronics would be positive if always viewed from the comfortable seat of an Omega M-2 Negative-Ion Massage Chair. Oh, wouldn’t life be grand?

Monday, February 18, 2008

New Posts Coming Soon

New blog posts will appear soon! My laptop and I do not get along, forcing me to calm my nerves with pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream and frozen pizzas. Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Everybody's Working for the Weekend


It’s only Wednesday, but I sprinkle fairy dust and wiggle my toes to make the week fly. We await the arrival of the Perkins family, friends of ours also enjoying newlywed bliss. They travel north to the big city to bunk with us for the weekend.

I prepare for their visit by taking an inventory of all items we have in stock that will make their trip a success. The less that guests have to drag into cabs, buses, or subways the happier they will be upon arrival. I believe, what's mine is yours.

I first assess my beauty arsenal by lining up hair products on the floor – shampoo, conditioner, hair dryer, Chi straight iron, and Conair hot rollers. We southern women swear by hot rollers. People comment on Amy Winehouse's bouffant, well teased hairdo like it's something new. She's a dime a dozen in any southern hair salon or beauty pageant.

I check the kitchen for tortilla chips, homemade salsa, Crystal Light lemonade, paper cups, and plates. In the bedroom/living room/study, I assess linens, towels, pillows, and air mattresses. I smash the ironing board behind the plywood wardrobe and push the couch down two inches to create a spot for their suitcases.

I sweep the three foot space of open floor in the living room and shake out the bathroom mat. All I have left to do is cut and hang the new shower curtain liner to fit the 13 inch shower opening. Suck in and turn sideways when stepping into shower, ladies and gentlemen.

I sit back to admire my preparation skills, my talents as a hostess. They definitely improved after saying "I do". My mom would be amazed, appreciate the values she instilled in me. She would be proud.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Curb Your Dog, Please

Dogs in New York City gross me out, make my tongue curl and body cringe, for one simple reason. They pee everywhere – on the side of an apartment building, on the mail box at the corner, on the flowers planted in pots facing upward toward a blue sky. But, the worst, the sickest, is when they pop a squat and unload right in the middle of a well trafficked sidewalk.

Owners turn blind eyes as Fido unleashes a yellow river that floods the sidewalk and gouges out trenches, mini grand canyons in concrete. I, a passerby and frequent dodger, roll my eyes in disgust. At least have the decency to steer your dog to the street or the trees that line them.

I grimace at the thought of tracking a dog’s "present" in our building and through the apartment every time I accidentally stumble through an off-color puddle. The city posts “Curb Your Dog” signs for a reason. I don’t care how cute a dog’s bedazzled sweater and matching shoes are as long as they do their business where my feet don’t tread. Please curb Fido, Benji, Lassie, and Toto so that pedestrians like me stay happy and keep clean soles.

Friday, February 8, 2008

More Pictures from the Grand Canyon

Driving away from the canyon at dusk.
A tiny Ben next to a big hole.

Laura, Ben, and I posing on a ledge overlooking the canyon.

Tree and canyon.
Eric and Laura peering over the edge of the canyon.