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 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


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.