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


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.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Vegas Vixen

I married into a family of statuesque height. Ben is 6’3. His sister, Laura, is 6’1. His older sister is 5’10. And, I am 5’6, a shrimp among long legged gazelles.

Laura met and stayed with us in Vegas. Ben worked while we gambled, shopped, watched shows, and walked the strip. As tourists, of course. We’re not that desperate for money.

Everywhere I went with Laura, people, mostly men, stopped to stare. After the fifth man we passed rubbed his neck from whiplash, I realized that it was not us they ogled, but Laura. She mesmerized them with sultry looks as I ran, panting, three steps behind her trying to keep up with her long strides and dodge my trampled self-esteem.

When Laura shook her head of red curls, men ushered us on the elevator first. When Laura sashayed through the casino, we got free drinks. When Laura struck a pose, taxis swerved through four lanes of traffic to reach us. When Laura batted her eyelashes, the answer was always “yes”. When I attempted her tricks, we got… nothing.

Laura was the supermodel with style. I disappeared behind her curls and tinkling laughter. I felt more like her publicist or personal assistant than her sister-in-law. Oh, well. I’m not Stretch Armstrong with America’s Next Top Model hidden potential. I just need to get used to it, or at least walk faster and wear higher heels.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Surviving the Desert

Nick, the Best Man at our wedding, said it best in his toast. My husband, Ben, panics. He completely freaks out for no apparent reason about things that most people wouldn’t think twice about. On Saturday, our trip through the desert gave him plenty of reason to panic.

We had to drive two hours through the desert before we would reach the Grand Canyon. Every 30 miles, Ben pulled the rental car over and requested that our group of four hop out to take pictures of the awesome scenery.

As Laura and I slept in the back seat, Ben and Eric chatted in the front. Ninety minutes into the desert, I pried my eyelids open, tried to gain control of my motor skills, and swallowed what felt like cotton balls. That’s what I get for sleeping with my mouth open. So attractive. Pretty sure Ben glanced in that rearview mirror and thought, “lucky me”.

With eyes still half closed, I whispered Eric’s name, groped for my water bottle, dangled it within reach, and hoped he could decipher the message to open the bottle. Thankfully, he did.

I guzzled the water and rested my head. Suddenly, Ben sat erect in the driver’s seat and shouted, “Babe? Babe, are you okay?” I mumbled an answer, which only threw Ben into a bigger tizzy. “OH MY GOSH, she’s dehydrated!”

Immediately, Ben and Eric clutched their throats and fanned themselves fearing the worst. Their conversation went a little like this.

“We’re in the desert with no water. Where are we going to get water?”

“My lips, my lips are cracked. I need water, chapstick!”

I sleepily pulled chapstick out of my pocket and passed it to the front.

“We’ve got to get WATER!”

“Pull off at the next stop.”

I listened and shook my head. Typical. Typical behavior from Ben. Only this time he found a partner to share in the frenzy.

In the distance, Eric spotted a gas station to which Ben frantically cried, “What if it’s a mirage?”

We veered off the interstate and squealed into the parking lot. Laura raised her head because of the commotion, but quickly fell back asleep. Ben and Eric raced into the gas station and emerged with a gallon jug of water to quench their “dehydration”.

Eric then grabbed my water bottle and refilled it so that “in a case of an emergency” I would have plenty of fluids. An emergency that, apparently, the front seat declared at mile marker 97.

Then, with a gallon of freshly distilled water, tube of chapstick, and renewed sense of calmness we headed east for the Grand Canyon.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Hoover Dam

A picture from our trip to the Hoover Dam. Just a standard, run of the mill photo, but wait...
... one of my favorite photos that I took standing on the Hoover Dam.
Do not crawl, silly tourists, on a ledge that promises a good beating or death by 17 turbine-generators and an unforgiving 726.4 foot concrete wall.

Friday, February 1, 2008

High Roller

Ben won big at the Blackjack table in Las Vegas! He screamed "double down" and high-fived our dealer Cici as he bet the last of our savings.

Alright, alright... he only won $200, but felt truly lucky when a stranger let him sit in his Lotus for a picture.