Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Vegas Odds

I write the blog posts, but Ben designs the snazzy mastheads and anything associated with technology.  That's just not my thing.  He adds things to make the blog more interactive, more high tech.  This week, he taught me about Technorati, a website that ranks blogs on the Internet according to number of site visits, page loads, unique visitors, etc.  Pretty interesting. 

So, I wondered, just where does "Itty Bitty in New York City" fall on the list?

Technorati says somewhere over a distant, cool four million.  "Ouch," cries my bruised ego.  That is, until, Ben discovered that "Itty Bitty" holds steadfast at that placement among more than 112 million other blogs.  There is a writing God!

I just hope my odds are better while in Vegas.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Vegas Vacation

I type this post from seat 36E (upgraded with extra leg room) on a Delta 757 thirty thousand feet in the air.  We are on our way to Vegas, baby, Vegas!  I plan to post pictures throughout our visit of the Las Vegas strip, Grand Canyon, and Hoover Dam.

Right now, I laugh hysterically.  A girl in line for the occupied lavatory unknowingly has a lengthy piece of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of her stiletto.  As she waits, she stretches her leg up and down, up and down.  The trail of tissue floats up and down, up and down.

Finally, she lifts her leg for the last time.  The tissue gives one last hurrah and gracefully falls to the floor.  The girl won, yet never realizes her victory.  The toilet paper balls up as passengers walk by; a stewardess kicks it to the side.  Poor tissue.  It put up a good fight.

After a week in Vegas, I will be that strand of toilet paper.  Started fresh, full of hope, but eventually wore down and exhausted.  I welcome the impending exhaustion that Vegas offers, it will be fun.  Worth it.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Channeling Michele Pfeiffer

I play a character at school, the role of “teacher”, where little mouths yell and vie for my attention using a name that still feels foreign since acquired only six months ago.

Yesterday, an eighth grader blamed me for his lowered English grade because I reported his bad behavior and failure to complete the in-class assignment. Consequently, his teacher lowered his grade. Power to the substitute!

I responded to his accusation with, “You made a choice to misbehave, to not follow directions. Everyone has a choice, everyday you have a choice, and yesterday you made the wrong one.” I wagged my finger as an odd feeling nagged me. Déjà vu.

My spiel sounded good, too good. And, suddenly, I knew why. Subconsciously, I had channeled Michele Pfeiffer who gave that speech verbatim in her 1995 film, “Dangerous Minds”. Finally, after years of role-playing in my head and waiting for the chance to say it, the opportunity to reenact the poignant scene where she imparts wisdom on her students and touches the audience with her street tough, yet valuable, teaching method presented itself.

But, unlike Michele Pfeiffer, I didn’t wear a leather jacket, teach karate or a valuable lesson to students bussed in from the ghetto. Instead, I realized that I watch too many movies. Luckily for me, most of the class missed my speech. For those that heard, I needn’t worry. They wouldn’t recognize a movie originally released on VHS or that starred an actress rarely seen in the tabloids. Hello?! That's so mid-90s.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Birthday Surprises

Two of my best friends (and college roommates) surprised me at our NYC apartment on Friday night. The girls and Ben had been in cahoots for two weeks and flew to New York at last minute for a weekend of laughs, deflated air mattresses, Scientologist sightings, and late night marathons of “What Not to Wear” with brownies.

We enjoyed a Saturday morning brunch that I suggested and Katie cooked. Jenn trumped Ben with one-liners and a cackle that reverberated off brownstones and echoed down city streets. Each morning, Ben and I leapt over air mattresses that formed a train from our bed to the bathroom.

On Saturday, we celebrated my birthday at a joint party where old friends met new ones, and Ben captured every moment on film. Wine, love, and laughter filled our weekend.

Today at work the girls surprised me with a cake from Crumbs (a very hip and trendy bakery) and a chorus of “Happy Birthday”. I was touched and honored since my first day at the school was only three months ago.

The cards, love, and surprises seemed to never end.

Birthday wishes do come true.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I worked today and have been requested for the rest of the week. Yes! The school didn’t need me last week so I sat bored and glued to the Sci-Fi channel afternoon movies of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Tremors”. I just couldn’t find the willpower or attention span to watch Brett Michael’s Rock of Love: Season II… for the third time.

My dad once claimed that I’d avoid getting a job despite having a master’s degree, which took seven years to earn and pushed back his retirement. He so easily, so carelessly dismissed my college work experience… a beverage cart driver at a golf course and eastern Kentucky’s undisputed “hostess with the most-ess” where the job requirements included lifting heavy cases of booze, serving customers in inclement weather, and seating patrons with a smile.

I like to work and stay busy. Life is better. I wake up happier, my energy level increases, my outlook is positive, and I have a purpose.

I just passed the New York state certification exams. By the end of February, early March, I should be licensed and able to interview for jobs. Until then, I wait by the phone in hope (and desperation) for news that I am needed.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Personal Space

Ben and I haven’t dabbled in our individual hobbies since getting married. Only recently did Ben play guitar and did I pick up the camera again. It’s difficult to focus on individual interests when we’re always within view or less than fifteen feet apart from one another. “Me” time disappeared after we moved into a one room apartment.

Ben reminds me of the predatory animals featured on National Geographic. He constantly lies in wait. Ready to pounce, attack when least expected, smother me with snuggles and kisses.

Last weekend, I vocalized my need for space, room to breathe after 72 hours of marriage lockdown in our apartment. I retreated to the couch with my computer so that it felt like we were in different rooms. Ben stayed in the kitchen. He contemplated following me, but my “talk to the hand” gesture and “don’t come near me” stare kept him at bay.

Ten minutes later, Ben nonchalantly scoped out my area, stretched, and strolled toward the couch. He flopped down next to me and every so slowly, stealthily, inched closer. And, closer. And, closer.

I sighed heavily. He feigned shock.

“Babe, I moved to couch to have personal space.”

I emphasized my message with nonverbal communication: me marking my territory, me drawing a line down the middle of the couch, me pointing to his empty seat in the kitchen, me using my fingers as stick people repelling from one another.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. But, sweetie, you know how I am. You know I like to be close, to snuggle and love you.”

That I do. That I do.

Ben's Baby

Friday, January 18, 2008

Mirrored Emotions

We tend to emotionally mirror each other. When Ben’s happy, I’m happy. When I’m stressed, he’s stressed. But, for some reason, when either of us gets angry or frustrated, the other person calms down to enjoy the free entertainment.

A month ago, I nearly busted an artery when I opened the cabinet door and a Tupperware avalanche almost decapitated me. In anger, I yanked down the George Foreman grill, dropped it in the sink, and chipped a corner. Ben moseyed over, observant to the scene, and sweetly asked if I needed help. Uh, yeah, like five minutes ago. At that point, what I really wanted was help knocking the syrupy pseudo-concern out of his voice. My state clearly entertained him, which only infuriated me more. I bit my tongue knowing his time would come.

The sound on our DVD player goes in and out. I don’t mind. In fact, I say, forgo the movie for a rerun on TV. Not Ben, whose threshold is low for defunct electronics. Last night, I prepared to stifle a laugh when no sound accompanied our movie. He shot off the couch, ripped the DVD player off the stand, wrenched out the cords, and shook it as hard as possible… because that usually works. The angrier he got, the more amused I became. Of course, I masked my entertainment with a stanch, concerned face.

Revenge can be so sweet.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Cooker, the Baker, and Aspiring Homemaker

I’m waiting for my lemon cake to finish baking in the oven. Lately, I like cooking. Well, not necessarily cooking so much as baking. I’ve been told there is a difference.

I mix pastel colored powders with oil and eggs, and watch the ingredients swirl together to release a yummy aroma. Then I pick up the beater and free myself of any built up aggression. I pretend the islands of powder floating in the batter are problems easily snuffed out with one swipe of my mixer's blades. Consider it free therapy.

I only bake when my husband is at the office. I don’t like him anywhere near the kitchen when I work. And, because we live in a studio, that would put him on either the sidewalk or back patio. I don’t want to be that kind of wife, so I wait until he’s gone. I don’t like the TV on in the background, being disturbed, or having him “assist” me. When it’s just me, I turn down the lights, turn up good music.

Baking might be a phase. I tend to find something new that sounds fun, then a few weeks later I’m over it. Ready to move on, try something new. Or, I realize that I’m bad at it, which prompts me to find another hobby. For now, though, both of our waistlines will enjoy this phase.

Monday, January 14, 2008

New Year's Resolution

I love to shop. I love to buy clothes, feel cute. I don’t deserve the things I want, but I still buy them. At least, I used to. Now, my financial situation is a little different. Being unemployed and living off one salary makes shopping more difficult, pretty much impossible. Yet, my life is easy compared to many.

At home, I met people that had very little. But, they hid from view on back-roads, in the mountains, out of sight. In New York City, I see them every day in door frames, under park benches, beneath awnings, at subway stops, on Broadway with an empty cup beside them.

I pass people who are homeless as I walk to get groceries, mail a letter, substitute teach. To many New Yorkers, they’ve blended into the scenery, become a part of the cityscape. Once, I waited for the light to change and heard a rustle in the trash can beside me. I turned my head as an elderly woman rifled through the garbage in search of something. Food, clothes, newspapers, money. I don’t know, doesn’t matter.

A man sleeps at the corner of 76th and West End. Every night, rain or shine, he curls under a layer of dirty comforters. He bothered me at first, made me uncomfortable. I’ve never reached out to him, and I don’t know what to do except walk by him every night as I have since August. I have never done anything except eventually discount his presence. How sad, for both him and me.

Yesterday, Ben and I walked under an overpass to Riverside Park and passed two people sleeping on a makeshift bed constructed from crates. Their shopping cart of treasure rested close by.

Two blocks later I passed a boutique with fashionable clothes in the window and, once again, I wanted frivolous, unimportant things. I do not have the ability to see, truly see, the people around me. If I did, wouldn’t I help? Wouldn’t I let their presence affect me? Perhaps, that should be my New Year’s resolution.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Itty Bitty Just Got A Little More Interesting

Ben on the Hudson River one block from our New York City apartment.

Ben and I just got a new camera, a Canon EOS Rebel XTi. Now, I will entertain you with pictures and vignettes about life in the Big Apple.

Friday, January 11, 2008


American Gladiators have the Gauntlet. Ultimate Fighters have the Octagon. Apartment 1C inhabitants have the bathroom, a 45x48 inch battleground where Ben and I fight for territory.

The bathroom is an okay size for me, or for Ben, but not for the both of us together. When alone, I have just enough square footage to blow-dry my hair or pluck my eyebrows. I have room to hike my leg over the toilet and moisturize. Ben, when alone, has just enough room to stretch his legs and escape with a good magazine for thirty, forty minutes.

The size, however, becomes problematic when we have to get ready at the same time, when our routines overlap. Good things never come out of it. I suffocate him with hairspray. He elbows me in the face. I splash water on his pants. He “accidentally” unplugs my curlers. I bump him while shaving.

Two bodies mean too little space. Coziness turns claustrophobic. Petulance outweighs peacefulness.

We realize that we have to accept our bathroom. Give each other space. Put one another first, which I have graciously done. Ben now gets ready first with the mirror I hung… in the kitchen.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Welcome to Brooklyn

Last night, Ben and I took a wrong turn. Isn’t that how every scary movie begins? We turned right instead of walking straight toward the Dunkin’ Donuts in Brooklyn.

We walked ten, twelve, maybe fifteen blocks. Who really counted? Apparently, we didn’t because we walked and walked and walked. We walked until I finally commented on the change of scenery. At first, the apartment buildings and storefronts cast a welcoming glow on the night street, but the neighborhoods became darker and looked less inhabited the deeper into Brooklyn we strolled. Eventually, apartments gave way to deserted storage buildings, abandoned semi trucks, and rental buildings with boarded up windows and heavy padlocked doors. Cars sped by us with no other human in sight.

I held Ben’s hand as we pressed on noting all the objects that, amidst the garbage scattered on the street and sidewalk, could be used as lethal weapons… a four foot lead pipe, a frying pan, a broken bottle, and a three foot wooden beam with nails that jutted out from one end. Not the sort of place that rolls out the welcome mat for visitors.

Finally, in the distance, rested a gas station well lit by God’s Heavenly light. We reached the station and stood, bathed in fluorescent light. Ben pointed to the outline of a grey bridge and asked me if it looked like an overpass. Overpass, my left arm! The only structure that bridge resembled was the one I was going to jump off if anyone attacked us.

We called our friend for new directions. We retraced our steps back to the subway to start again, but this time in a different direction, of course. (The new route was, by the way, very nice and safe.)

So, my first trip to Brooklyn started out a little rocky, a little rough. But, it ended well (with husband and all body parts intact). We arrived safely at our party. Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll be going back until the days get longer and the night get shorter, or at least until we learn how to follow directions.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Where There's A Will, There's A Way

Ben and I need to exercise – if not for our health, then our sanity. When the weather turned cold, we morphed into lazy, lifeless blobs with no motivation, no oomph. No desire to be productive.

It’s work to drag myself off the couch and participate in a vigorous activity. I sensed trouble when cleaning our 350 square foot apartment became laborious. When I broke a sweat dusting our four pieces of furniture.

A few incentives do motivate me to work out. I love the brisk, six block walk to McDonalds. A cheeseburger, French fry, and Diet Coke from the dollar menu are worth the energy spent.

We eat (a lot). We watch bad, bad TV (too much). We make brownies and then eat some more. Jabba the Hutt would be proud.

New Yorkers do get more exercise than most people since we walk everywhere. I once heard that the average New Yorker walks almost four miles a day. Unfortunately, that statistic isn’t true for me since I substitute teach five blocks away from our apartment.

Ben has a little more gumption then me. He first suggested that we exercise. Great idea, I said. I’ll do it as soon as this next show is over.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Lookin' Good

Ben and I met friends Saturday night at a bar in the East Village. We walked a long way to get there. I say we were lost, but Ben claims that we went “sightseeing” before arriving one hour and thirty minutes late. I admit that my beauty routine cannot be rushed, but I attribute the lost time to Ben’s sense of direction.

The best part of the night was when Ben learned a hard lesson. That beauty is pain.

He wore a very carefully selected outfit with a pair of brand new shoes – fitted, pointy toed, leather shoes with one strategically placed brass buckle on the side. Very city chic. Two blocks from our apartment, he complained that his new shoes fit snugly and rubbed his heel. Fifteen blocks and two subway rides later, he started to limp. What a wimp.

When we arrived at the bar, Ben immediately slid his feet out of his shoes to find two bloody socks and heels with not one, but two blisters. He looked at me, sought comfort. All I could think was… rookie.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Move It or Lose It

I’ve become more and more of a New Yorker. It’s only a matter of time before I kick my Southern graciousness, lady like behavior, and genteel manners to the curb.

When I was home for the holidays, my mom and I went shopping with a list of items I needed to purchase. Only one place in town had everything on my list... Wal-Mart. A beacon, a Mecca, the main attraction for locals who seek a plethora of goods at low prices.

We walked through the automatic sliding glass doors and joined the crowds of people that swarmed the aisles. After an hour of battling crowds and dodging frazzled shoppers, I was at the end of my rope. I could no longer handle the glare from the fluorescent lights and getting rammed from behind by carts.

We headed to the hardware section to grab the last item and escape the frenzy. I rounded the corner to find the aisle blocked by an old man in a motorized wheelchair. He had not only parked in the middle of the aisle, but moved soooooo slow. All I could think was, “For the love of Pete! Move it, you old geezer.” How New York of me.

I coughed to signal my presence. I said, “Excuse me.” I sucked in and tried to squeeze around him. I tapped my foot. Finally, when he finished comparing prices and reading labels, he zoomed off.

I shook my head when I realized what a New Yorker I had become. I now walk faster, cuss a little more, elbow people in line, and harass feeble old men in wheelchairs. Awesome.