Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Home Again

I apologize for the lack of posts this past week. I’ve become incredibly l-a-z-y since Christmas vacation began. Couple vacation with being at home, and getting anything done has become nearly impossible.

I adopted a new mantra this week… do nothing and enjoy everything. I like it, and I am going to wholly endorse it while at home. Work? Never heard of it. Responsibilities? Eh. Doing nothing but hanging out with friends and family? Now that sounds more like it.

Since stepping foot in Kentucky, at least two wrinkles have disappeared and one year has been added back to my life. The pace of life is much calmer and the people are more patient. The only time my New York tendencies reemerge is when running for a spot in the shortest checkout line at Super Wal-Mart.

I sleep great at home too. I know part of it is being back in my old room, in my old bed. But, mostly, it’s about the silence. It’s so quiet here. No garbage trucks, no people yelling, no motorcycles, no construction, no noises in the hallway, no apartment doors slamming. Ah, I feel the zzzzzz’s coming on just thinking about it.

It feels good to be back. I am rested, rejuvenated, and stress-free. Thankfully, I can enjoy this for a few more days.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Or... Maybe Not

One of the students I work with is on a basketball team. I said that, coming from a state of avid basketball fans, Ben and I would love to watch him play in a game. He responded enthusiastically... at first. Then, he looked unsure.

"It would be cool if you could come," he said. "But, you'll have to say you're my way, way distant cousin."

"That's fine," I replied.

"Well, actually, I don't know..." he said hesitantly.

"What?" I asked.

He gave me a long glance.

"Maybe you should say you're my aunt instead."

Yowzer! I guess somebody needs to start busting out the anti-aging creams stat!

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Good Day

Last night, everything went right and it put me in the best mood.

First, the subway smelled like one gigantic Christmas tree. The fact that the subway actually smelled GOOD is pretty much a miracle. I’m not even going to start talking about what the subway usually smells like.

Second, I found a store in Harlem on 116th street that sells stuff at decent, affordable, and discounted prices. It was there that I picked up a sleigh load of gifts for our school’s toy and clothing drive that is going on until next Tuesday. Feel free to wire me some money for more presents.

Then, I went to the grocery store. There were NO lines, and the cashier at the register smiled at me AND said “happy holidays” in a genuinely pleasant voice. By this point, I pretty much believed that I had entered a New York in some alternate, parallel universe.

Lastly, I walked into our apartment and immediately saw that Carlos (the superintendent of our building) had replaced two broken window blinds. We can finally close the blinds! Now the people that live in the 20 story building across the street won't be traumatized when they look out their window to check the weather and instead see us lying around like beached whales and gorging ourselves on Subway’s $5 foot long sandwiches.

Cheers to a good day!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Courtney Stares

A group of us met on Saturday afternoon to listen to Scott Pryor and the Common Sinners play at the Rockwood Music Hall in the Lower East Side. It was a great show. The lyrics took Courtney to a far away land...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Picture

I've received a few comments about not posting a picture of our Double Dare teams with the Halloween story. I didn't FORGET to post a picture. I purposefully waited until today. It was all a part of my master plan to get readers to check back later in the week. Drumroll please...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Halloween '09

Halloween. Ugh. It’s like New Year’s Eve. An overrated holiday where the preparation process causes so much stress that it usually outweighs the fun of the actual night. Even with that prior knowledge, we still made a go of it.

Six of us dressed up as the red and blue teams from “Double Dare”, a popular Nickelodeon family game show from our childhood. We ironed Double Dare logos onto red and blue sweatsuits that we ordered off of the Internet. Surprisingly, Manhattan stores and boutiques don’t keep oversized elastic solid colored sweatsuits in stock. I can’t imagine why such form-enhancing outfits would not be popular in the fashion capitol of the world.

We topped off our outfits with matching helmets, and elbow and kneepads. We were quite a sight next to the hordes of scantily clad firemen, French maids, and genies. But, as we had hoped (and prayed and betted), our costumes were a hit with the targeted audience. It took gumption to be seen in the streets of New York City with such clever and, at the same time, unattractive outfits.

We bought tickets to attend a highly anticipated Halloween extravaganza at the famed Tavern on the Green restaurant in Central Park. The event turned more into a disaster than an extravangza. We, along with an oversold crowd of around 1,000 to 2,0000 partygoers waited in a long line and light drizzle for the doors to open. They never did.

The motley crowd made of sunken treasure chests, Legos, sultans, Disney princesses, football players, celebrity look-a-likes, and cowboys turned ugly pretty quickly. Chants of “Rip the tent down!” and “Flip the (catering) truck!” surged from the crowd. Finally, after TWO hours of waiting, the NYC police arrived and told THOUSANDS of costumed New Yorkers that the party was being shut down.

Bummer.

But, that small setback didn’t stop us! We hopped on the subway and headed to another party in Chelsea, which was awesome until a resident on the third floor locked himself out of his apartment and used a fire extinguisher to bust down his door. The exploded extinguisher left an inch of dust on the stairwell and prompted the NYC fire department to respond. Forced to leave yet another party.

But, like the first contestants of “Double Dare”, we did not take defeat easy. We just moved the party to our place and called it a night with a delivery of chicken fingers and cheese sticks from the diner down the street. We made the night memorable, not too hard with fun teammates.

And, most importantly, we were comfortable in our super cool sweatsuits.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Island Living

My life in New York feels like a movie, especially when my iPod provides the soundtrack. I can’t believe that I live in one of the most incredible cities in the world AND am still alive. Honestly, I had my doubts. I marvel at how Ben and I have adjusted, and pretty impressed with the ‘tude I adopted.

It’s so surreal to live here. Whenever I travel or go anywhere else, I can’t believe how full of life New York is. Everyone and everything is so different – cultures, languages, and people. Everyday, I hear and see and meet people from every corner of the world. It can’t get any more varied than here.

In the September 30th issue of amNY (a local newspaper) they quoted that there are an estimated 170 languages spoken in the city. And, at least, 48% of New Yorkers speak another language at home. It’s pretty incredible that that many different kinds of people live together on 22.96 square mile island.

Everyone should experience New York, whether it’s visiting or living here. There really is NO other place like it. Our door is always open…

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Back in the city after 15 hours in the car from Kentucky to the Big
Apple! We just drove through Times Square and hit surprising light
traffic... too bad I can't say the same thing about the Pennsylvania
Turnpike!

Check out the pic I just took with the iPhone while driving through
Times Square. There's nothing like opening your window to the sweet smell of exhaust and the contagious excitement of the holiday season in New York City.

Glad to be back!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

It's Monday night and NYC is preparing for the Macy's Thanksgiving
Day parade to be held on Thursday. Snapped this picture with the
iPhone (this little thing is pretty handy).

Saturday, November 21, 2009

School Visit

Okay, last story about my parents’ visit. I promise.

My mom and dad visited my school the Monday that they were in town. I took them to several classrooms where they were “guest readers” and answered questions from the kids. I had warned my dad that most questions would probably stray from “The Giving Tree” and center around, well, whatever happened to be on the kids’ minds at the moment.

One little girl in the second grade classroom timidly raised her hand.

“How old are you?” she asked.

“How old do you think I am?” my dad asked back.

“Mmmmm, 40,” she said, thoughtfully.

“Oh, I LIKE that number,” replied my dad.

Several kids then shouted out numbers in the 40-50 age range.

During this conversational exchange, I watched one little girl’s face wrinkle in confusion and disbelief. Obviously, judging by my dad’s white hair and beard and wrinkles, she knew better. I realized where her thinking was headed. So, naturally, I called on her to comment next.

“I think you’re more like… 100.”

You could hear my dad's laugh three floors down.


* * * * * * * * * *


Parents’ roundtrip plane tickets to NYC: $600

Taxi fare to school: $15

Seeing dad’s reaction and hearing his laugh when told he looks 100 years old: PRICELESS

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Efficiency

Taxi rides stressed out my dad just a tad when my parents visited. My dad texted “I think we may die” on their way from the airport to the hotel. Followed shortly by “Is there a hospital close to you?” The driving didn’t faze my mom, a regular on the New York scene.

My dad feared for life every time he slid onto a taxi’s cool leather seats. If he wasn’t clutching his chest or wiping beads of sweat from his forehead, he was frozen with fear and unable to respond to even simple yes/no questions. I swear I saw the last few gray hairs in his beard turn white during sudden stops and swerves.

He finally found his voice after one taxi ride and exclaimed, “I swear they try to kill me!” To which I emphatically responded, “No, no, no! In New York, that’s what we call EFFICIENT.”

Time is money, folks.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Family Visit

My mom and dad visited us in NYC this past weekend and we had a blast. Their time here included three Broadway shows, a trip to Macys, an Ethiopian restaurant, a visit to my school in Harlem, a museum, lots and lots of eating, and an afternoon in Bryant Park. The whole weekend felt like a double date, and I rather liked it.

Below is a picture I snapped before we saw the play "Hair" on Broadway. I laughed as I took it. Can you find the oxymoron as well?

* Hint: My dad's head and the sign behind him...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Perspectives: Part VII

Not everyone has the same taste.

I visited a kindergarten classroom and greeted a tiny guy whose hands, when outstretched, fit perfectly into the palms of my hands. I asked him to come with me and he obliged. As we walked down the hallway, he glanced my way and said, “I really don’t like your dress.”

I raised my eyebrows and replied, “Interesting… because I wasn’t really sure if I liked this dress either. What don’t you like?”

I didn’t really expect a response related to my fashion question considering the student was five and probably had no idea what I was talking about, but, then again, kids always surprise me.

“I don’t like pink. It’s not my favorite color.”

And, I thought I was looking good that day.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Showtime

A big white tent blocked the sidewalk and forced me to take a mini-detour on my way to Barnes and Noble tonight at 66th and Broadway in the Upper West Side. Naturally, the big white tent interested me very much. So, I peeked inside and asked a bouncer what was going down on this seemingly mundane Wednesday night…

A movie premiere! Cameron Diaz and other celebrities were on their way for the premiere of their new movie “The Box”. I swear, only in New York, on any given day, could I leave work and pass a movie premiere on my way to the bookstore. Ridiculous!

Now, I know what many of you are thinking – did I stick around to catch a glimpse of Cameron Diaz? No, no, no… I have a life, people! I can’t chase every celebrity that I come into contact with around this town.

Plus, I already saw her once about two years ago at a karaoke bar in the East Village. And, the last thing I need is for her to yell “stalker” as she walks down the red carpet. So, I thought it best to keep a low profile and instead blab about it on my blog J

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tips to Navigate Public Transportation: Closing

Consider the tips from the past five days an inside New Yorker’s guide to proper bus and subway etiquette. Follow the tips, and you practically eliminate the initial impression that you are a tourist. Easy and simple. Now, pack your bags and come visit the greatest city in the world!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tips to Navigate Public Transportation: Tip #5

TIP #5

Hold on to the pole. You do not have the balance of a tightrope walker. If you stand hands-free, I guarantee that you will fall into or onto someone the second the subway jerks or stops. You won’t get yelled at because it was an accident, but you won’t be liked. So, grab a pole and don't let go!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tips to Navigate Public Transportation: Tip #4

TIP #4

When there are two seats side-by-side and perpendicular to the window, do NOT sit in the outside seat and block access to the inside seat. This creates a waste of space, a waste of a seat, and lots of dirty looks from the people standing and wish to be in that comfy seat. I, for one, have worked on a dirty look saved especially for seat hogs who commit the aforementioned atrocity, a look which expresses my contempt for their obliviousness (or selfishness). Trust me, you do not want to see my look. So, scoot over!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tips to Navigate Public Transportation: Tip #3

TIP #3

When you sit down on a bus or subway, don't take up TWO seats - one for you and one for your bag(s). Confine yourself to one space unless there is plenty of room to sprawl out. Nobody likes the person who takes one seat for themselves and then another for their bag or briefcase. Your inanimate object is tired and needs a place to rest too? Really? Because I'm pretty sure that my legs would appreciate it a lot more.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tips to Navigate Public Transportation: Tip #2

TIP #2

When you get on a bus or a subway, don’t dilly dally in the front and mosey around looking for a seat. That wastes time and annoys everyone behind you because you clog the entrance and prompt people to shout unruly things at you. Plus, everyone already seated or standing automatically assumes you are a tourist. And, honestly, who wants to look like a tourist?

Head straight for the nearest open standing area or seat and sit down. My blood pressure skyrockets when people stop in the entrance and cause the doors to close with people still waiting outside. People that could have easily squeezed in the extra space! It's a double doozie for those left behind when running late, or when it's cold and rainy.

Ben and I once got separated on the subway because a family of tourists stopped in the doorway of the subway car, which inevitably pushed Ben back onto the platform. The doors closed before Ben could squeeze on, and I limply waved bye to Ben as the train took off. Ben shrugged his shoulders and we exchanged a look of understanding as the train zoomed down the track and left him on the platform as I rode to the next station. Trust me when I say that those tourists received no warm and fuzzy smiles from me. Pretty sure I rolled my eyes and sighed extra obnoxiously loud just to get my point across... okay, so I didn't really do the second part, but I thought about it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tips to Navigate Public Transportation

The lack of bus and subway etiquette in New York can drive me bonkers. Most New Yorkers have it, some fail to adhere to it, and tourists have no clue about it. Public transportation etiquette is the epitome of a smooth commute; therefore, a smooth day. I dedicate this week’s posts to the “Do’s and Don’ts” of commuting via the MTA in New York City.

Consider these tips a shout-out to all New Yorkers who DON’T do this and should, and to all vacationers who want to blend better into the city scene and lessen their chances of getting yelled at by a native.

Check back each day for a mini-manners lesson.

TIP #1

When getting on a bus or a subway, have your metrocard ready to swipe at the machine. Don’t wait and pull it out at the last second unless you have a quick draw. It’s irritating when someone clogs an entrance into the subway because they didn’t have their metrocard ready. It usually elicits a rumble of grunts and sighs from a backup of rushed commuters. Keep in mind that a daily commute of 45-60 minutes to work is not uncommon (Ben and I do it), so many find that minor interruption bothersome.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Football

Catching a New York Giants game on a Sunday night!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Smile!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bedbug Update

We still do NOT have bedbugs and we keep our fingers crossed that it stays that way. I wrote a post about bedbugs last week and, ironically, Monday's cover story in am NEW YORK was "The Bug Apple". The news article reported an increase of bedbugs in the city. Coincidence? I think not.

The paper mentioned that bedbug infestations in the city are on the rise, and that bedbugs can spread to businesses, theaters, hospitals, offices, schools, buses, and subways. Eeeeeeewww! As soon as I read that I gave my seat-mate on the subway a sidelong glance and indiscreetly scooted further down the row of seats. Can't be too careful nowadays.

The article also mentioned that bedbugs are active at night given that they are nocturnal creatures. They feed on humans and animals. Sick. These bedbugs give a whole new meaning to the phrase "the city that never sleeps."

To leave you with one more interesting fact, just a little something to whet your appetite for a future trip to the Big Apple... bedbugs can survive up to 18 months without food and can be found anywhere in the home - cracks in the wall, couches, books, clothing, and even electrical outlets. I venture to guess that the home invaders would LOVE to try somewhere new and use your suitcase to get there. Welcome to New York!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Guess Who

I took the picture below (posted earlier today) with my iPhone in the main concourse area of Grand Central around 8:30 this morning on my way to meet friends. The picture turned out relatively clear considering I took it with a cell phone and my eyes half closed from getting up so early. After some detective work and inside tips, I found out that they were filming a TV spot starring... Donald Trump! He actually stood about 10 feet away from me, and I swear that we made eye contact. Coincidentally, this is my second sighting of the Donald! The man gets around. I have only one thing to say about him... he sure has a great tan.

Something exciting is going on in Grand Central on this Sunday morning at 8am! Will do my best detective work to find out.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The World Is Our Runway


This past weekend, Ben and I joined 13 friends from college for a little reunion at our ole' stomping grounds. Ben snapped this picture of three of us girls on our way out of the horse races after an afternoon of betting, drinking, and eating our winnings away. This picture captures the day well - we were exhausted but excited, full but ready for Rincon Mexicana, broke but still looking like a million bucks. Thank goodness for good friends.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

House Guests

We’ve survived 1000-legged bugs. We’ve survived Amazonian roaches. And, now, it looks like we may have possibly, potentially, avoided a case of… bedbugs.

Yes, bedbugs are real. The old childhood saying, “Sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite”, is not so cute anymore. A New Yorker’s greatest fear could include an infestation of bedbugs in their apartment. It sounds funny, but is a total nightmare.

Fortunately, we have not experienced that torture firsthand… yet. But, I do fear the day that some more unwanted houseguests might migrate over the threshold of our door and into fabrics of our clothes, furniture, and mattresses.

Bedbugs travel into apartments from items picked up on the sidewalks, going to a house that has bedbugs, or by mysteriously traveling from apartment to apartment in buildings. Much. Like. Our. Building.

Two weeks ago, we met our new neighbors, two cute girls that live across the hallway from us. During our first conversation ever, our neighbor mentions that they just exterminated their apartment for bedbugs! Apparently, the apartment below our apartment, the apartment below their apartment, AND their apartment all got bedbugs. Yikes! The odds are not in our favor.

I tried to appear unaffected and not freaked out, but once I started to hyperventilate in a paper bag, she cut the conversation short and summed it up with, “Well, I need to go get our curtains out of the laundry.” Because, we soon learned, EVERYTHING must be washed in hot water, dried in high heat, dry cleaned, steamed, and the apartment exterminated to kill the bedbugs. Then, all furniture must be cleaned to rid the apartment of any eggs or leftover bugs.

The work and the pricetag… wait… give me a second… just gotta grab my brown bag and calm down…

Better.

Luckily, LUCKILY, it’s been 2.5 weeks and there have been NO bedbug sightings in our apartment. Each day, I check all nooks and corners, and behind the couch and bed. I scream if I even THINK that I see something move. And, every night, I pray and ask God to please, please, please let me sleep tight and not let any bedbugs bite.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Interesting Approach

The red SUV on Riverside Drive appeared normal until a closer inspection revealed an interesting sign on the passenger side window...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hide-and-Seek

I don’t know much about computers, so I ask Ben for help. I first TRY to figure it out on my own, but usually lose unsaved information or delete a program. I basically screw things up when left unsupervised. So, I ask Ben to help me.

But, I go CRAZY when Ben wants help and asks for the location of things in our apartment before even looking. Where is the paper? Where is my hair gel? Where are my sunglasses? And, just last night… where are the measuring cups?

WHERE DO YOU THINK?!?! (I yell in my head). Where do people usually keep measuring cups… in the KITCHEN! There are only TWO drawers in our entire 3x3 foot kitchen, so there is a pretty good chance that they are in there.

But, I don’t yell that. Instead, in a calm voice, I say, “Why, the measuring cups are in the back of the drawer that is next to the stove, babe.”

But, in my head, I continue with… And your sunglasses? In the nightstand drawer where they have been for two years. Your hair gel? On top of the dresser in the bedroom in full view AND where I placed it after I unpacked your toiletry bag from vacation that you left sitting on the bed.

We live in the same 2½ room apartment. There are only so many places for things to hide. Next time I suggest that Ben look (just a little) before asking or I take some St. John's Wort.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Storytelling Festival

I took this picture of a storyteller as she prepared to go on stage at the Storytelling Festival held in our hometown and put on by my mother-in-law. This picture doesn't show it, but those that attended waited out cloudy skies and mini-monsoons to see their favorite performers. The rain may have dampened the air, but not the excitement of the audience or the energy of the stories told in the tent.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Busy Body

Sorry about the recent lack of "readable" posts, as quoted by my father who requested to see more writing and less pictures of his son-in-law "looking good." Ha. I thought everyone loved to see Ben's beautiful and smiley face.

It has been a wild/exhausting couple of weeks. School (my day job) and the therapy gym (my evening job) started on September 9th. It takes a little time to adjust to the new schedule and get everything organized. Plus, we have been lucky enough to either be traveling every weekend or having company visit.

Finally, last night, I decided that NO MATTER WHAT I was going to go to bed early secondary to a little incident at the grocery store. As I paid for my food, the store cashier informed me that my metrocard would NOT work in the credit card machine no matter how many times I swiped it. I guess I subconsciously thought that the unlimited monthly pass offered more than just rides around the city on public transportation.

But, being tired and adjusting to a new schedule is totally worth it since I am back at my adorable, perfect, happy school in East Harlem. Once again, I am working with the most awesome people (that includes kids and adults) in all of New York City. I am so lucky.

New York City becomes a little more of home every year.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friends & Family


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bags, Bags, and More Bags

We only buy what we can carry in New York City. Wherever you are, whatever you buy… you have to haul it with you. It’s a good workout for the biceps.

My girlfriend and I met on Sunday afternoon to go to Bed Bath & Beyond and then the movies down the street. We bought bed sheets, a Dirt Devil vacuum, all natural dish soap, light bulbs, mouthwash, a basket, body wash, and several other items that made our bags even heavier and bulkier. We carried the bags into the movies and conveniently placed them on the seats next to us, taking up the entire row.

Until that moment, I had never noticed how many people lug stuff in to the movies. We saw two more women in the theater with a BB&B bags, and then in the bathroom I saw multiple bags from the Gap and Duane Reade. One lady even carried a brand new broom and dustpan into the stall with her!

We have to carry our purchases around since we don’t have cars or trunks to store things. I remember thinking how weird that was when I first moved here. Now, it’s normal and doesn’t strike me as funny until moments like this remind me just how different life in New York can be.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Weekend Getaway

We left the city over Labor Day weekend, and traded buildings for trees and roads for dirt paths. When we lived in a small town we went to a bigger city for nonstop entertainment, crowds of people, and a jam-packed schedule. But, now that we live in a big city, we just want the peace and quiet only found in a small town. Less people and more green space.

So, we escaped to Princeton, New Jersey and stayed at the Marriott at Forrestal. We stayed for free at the Marriott thanks to Ben and the Marriott points he racked up from traveling for work. Free lodging is how couples, like us, on a budget live large.

Our hotel room was approximately the size of our first studio apartment, and we welcomed the extra space of the king size bed since we usually squeeze into a full. We got professional massages for the first time ever, and we rented a car. We forgot how FUN driving is!

On Saturday, we walked around Princeton University's campus and felt a little old as nervous freshman moved into the dorms for their first weekend of college. Parents proudly hauled boxes from minivans with soaped windows declaring, "Frosh in front" and "Princeton Tiger Cub on Board". Obviously, we're too weathered to be considered 18, but maybe the youngins mistook us for one of the nontraditional-post doctoral-married student housing couples.

We started each day with chocolate chip and banana pancakes at PJ's Pancake House. We then biked along the D&R Canal and later relaxed with some brewskies at a locally famous bar called Alchemist & Barrister, owned by a chemist and a lawyer. Supposedly the actor Andrew Shue lives in Princeton. I never saw him, but as we biked along the canal I couldn't help but continually scan the river for Joshua Jackson with a crew team reenacting his role from The Skulls. Even at the bar, I expected Matt Damon and Ben Affleck from Good Will Hunting to show up and quote some famous authors to only then take my Ben out back and rough him up South Boston style. Blame Hollywood for my twisted Ivy League perspective.

Overall, the weekend was great. Quiet and relaxing. Princeton was awesome, and definitely excited us for our one day departure to suburbia.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ben Lookin' Good

Friday, September 11, 2009

Big Girl

I got my blood drawn this morning. Usually the people that do my lab work are older than me, like my parents’ ages. They are very sensitive to my apprehensiveness and fear of needles. They comfort me when I start to cry. Sometimes they get me a cup of water, and I really like it. I really appreciate it.

Today, though, a 24-year-old guy named Jefferson was my personal phlebotomist. I’ve never cried in front a boy before (besides Ben), let alone one that is my almost my age. How embarrassing.

Yet, tears formed in the corners of my eyes as Jefferson arranged the tubes and pulled out the needle. As he wiped the inside of my elbow with the alcohol swab, I said with a single tear rolling down my cheek, “I used to passed out, but now I only cry.” I wiped the tear away. “Just so you know.”

Jefferson, very sweetly and gently said, “Oh, is that right? Don’t worry. I’ll take really good care of you, but you know… it may be time to hold that in and be a big girl.”

Gasp! Jefferson, doesn’t know how right he is. I. Will. Never. Maybe. Not. Cry. Again. I think that Jefferson was just what I needed to finally get over the last of my fear. No more tears from this big girl!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Girls Are Back

On Thursday, I rode the crosstown bus to the East Side. It was an average, no adventure bus ride until we happened to pass the movie Sex and the City 2 being filmed! Sex and the City 2!

I squealed with excitement as I smooshed my face against the window and craned my neck in hope of seeing Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha, or Miranda. Before I could see anybody, the light turned green and our bus sputtered down street. Deep down in my heart, though, I know I caught a glimpse of Carrie's curls and Jimmy Choos before turning left onto Madison Avenue.

I suppose it's time to slip into stalk mode and track down the locations being filmed in the movie. Why, they might need an extra assistant or possibly even an extra in the movie! No matter what, I'm excited because... the girls are back!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mindset

I have been easing back into the routine of being in the city again. I got used to the slower pace and laid back atmosphere of Kentucky, and knew it would be hard to adjust back to city life once I returned. Even though I had been back almost a week, I still had a southern mindset until the other day…

On Monday, I witnessed a shoplifter/store clerk confrontation in CVS where the shoplifter yelled back at the store clerk and defended his right to steal. One taxi almost flattened me and another flipped me off. I paid more than double for Frosted Mini Wheats ($6.49 vs. $2.34 at Super Wal-Mart in Kentucky). And, at the end of the day, I watched a very tall transvestite cuss out a different store clerk for gender discrimination at the same aforementioned grocery store (the clerk confused her pronouns).

I finally had my “aha” moment during the last incident and came to grips with the fact that I am now, officially, back in NYC. Whew. Way to roll out the red carpet and welcome me back, New York!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Time

I went home for a week and a half for summer vacation to visit and reconnect with friends and family. I met with my girlfriend, Nicole, for breakfast. It had been two years since we had seen last each other. Too long.

When I am in New York, I wish that I could hit the pause button at home and make time stand still. I would freeze everyone and everything and not hit play until my next visit. That way, I wouldn't miss anything.

Here's Nicole...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fancy Feet

My girlfriend, Medina, and I visited in Bryant Park one afternoon after work. We got comfortable, slipped off our shoes, and propped our feet up on an empty chair. We were mid-conversation when a middle aged man sat down beside us.

He asked us about the nearest subway and then - without warning - reached over and started to massage our feet. Massage our feet! What in the world?!?!

Medina and I froze and looked at each other in complete shock. For a moment, I thought we were on Candid Camera, but no camera crew was in sight. Then, I checked my Coke in case it had been spiked and I was hallucinating. As I desperately searched for an answer, I realized that I had instead entered into an alternate/parallel universe where this was normal. That was the only possible explanation.

Suddenly, the man spoke mid-massage and began a long spiel about how he works with feet. How he just loves feet. Hmm...

I found my voice, after the feelings of shock and surprise wore off, and mentioned that our feet were pretty dirty from the subway. Subtly implying that he shouldn't touch them. He replied, "Oh, I don't mind" and continued to stroke our big toes. So much for a social cue.

Medina and I tried to maintain composure, but the whole situation was so out-of-control that we couldn't help but laugh. After a few minutes, the man abruptly stopped and excused himself, leaving us completely confused and hysterical. So bizarre.

My only explanation - foot fetish! I used to see ads for this sort of thing on Craigslist. I remember that I seriously considered applying for one when unemployed two years ago. Don't judge - I have nice feet and we were on a tight budget.

Needless to say, our afternoon was no a walk in the park that day.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Central Park Extravaganza

In July, we went to a (free) New York Philharmonic concert in Central Park. Ben, his parents, and I picnicked in the park and settled in with hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers for a great concert. The concert ended dramatically when a thunderstorm cut the last song short and sent concert goers in all directions in search of shelter. Quite a finale!

Below are a few pictures from the event. I like the picture of me eating because of the bright colors. I included the picture of the lady with the red umbrella because I like the method she used to help lost group members find their spot in the crowd. Cell phones tend not to work during these events because of the high volume of calls being placed, so people get creative when marking their territory. In the last picture, Ben contemplates song selections and reads the bios for each of the guest conductors.



Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fleeting Moment

I froze in the hallway at school on Friday, the last day of summer school. My olfactory nerve detected an unusual, yet vaguely familiar, scent... one rare in New York City and never smelled before by me... FRESHLY CUT GRASS! I eagerly wrinkled my nose and sniffed again with the hope of getting just one more teensy tiny whiff.

But, the smell quickly passed.

Sigh.

Until that moment, I had completely forgotten about the delicious, clean smell of freshly cut grass. And, I didn't even realize that I had forgotten about it until that moment. That's what happens when living in a concrete jungle.

I will now spend the rest of my summer afternoons by grass, even if the closest patch is three blocks away. Time to google New York City's parks and recreation mowing schedule. I'm ready for summer!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Digs

Our. New. Place. Rules!

We are finally settled in and enjoying the perks moving up the housing ladder. Our new place is a MAJOR upgrade from the last apartment; even one of the movers said that last week as he carried in the first box. His comment made me so proud and I beamed brighter than the New York City skyline at nighttime (corny line, I know, but so true).

Perks of the new place include:

5th floor - The fifth floor puts us five floors up from the trash room, definitely an added bonus. We have good views of the street and sky, two things not seen from the windows in our last place. And, it seems, the higher we go the more entertainment we have. We can easily see into about 100 people's windows, and I already have seen two people naked! I put a telescope at the top of my wish list.

Lots of sunlight - This is the best part since we didn't get ANY sunlight in the last apartment. It no longer feels like a perpetual blizzard since our new view includes the sky and street. In fact, we don't turn the lights on until the sun goes down.

BIGGER space - My sanity stays intact longer in a bigger space. Enough said.

Location, location, location - Our building is next to the subway, crosstown bus, grocery store, and bank. Anything we need is literally within 2 blocks.

Cleanliness - The new place is way cleaner than the last apartment (i.e. NO COCKROACH sightings... yet). I know that every building in New York has cockroaches, but if I never see one then I can believe that our building is totally bug-free. And, that makes me very happy.

Rent - We also got, what we consider in New York City, a great deal for a true one bedroom.

I can’t believe our new apartment. We still have mini appliances and the building is older, but it's a great New York apartment. Life is definitely good.

Friday, August 14, 2009

More Coming Soon

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. We just got everything out of boxes and the internet is finally up and running. Check back this week for new stories!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Scavenger

Ben and I collected boxes this week from grocery stores, bodegas, Duane Reades, and the street to save money and pack for our big move on Saturday. On Tuesday morning, while Ben was at work, I hit the jackpot at Gristedes grocery store on 96th street thanks to Darrell, the manager. He hooked me up big time and saved me from a lot of extra work and walking.

Darrell gave me 6 boxes at 9:30am that I stacked and carried home BY MYSELF to 93rd street. Apparently, that was a big deal in New York City. People acted impressed to see a small blonde carrying a five-foot tall tower of corrugated cardboard down a New York City sidewalk.

Taxicabs and doormen whistled and catcalled as the boxes teetered precariously above my above head. Two moving trucks on 91st street with small armies of men cheered me on as I scooted by. One guy even yelled, “You for hire?”

Needless to say, Ben was very proud to come home from work and see an apartment full of packed boxes. He’s always pretty impressed with my toughness. My brute strength definitely keeps him in line and lets him know who’s boss of our current, but soon to be old, apartment.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Today is our 2 year anniversary!
Happy anniversary to us, a very happy and very much in love couple.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Perspectives: Part VI

I wore a sleeveless shirt to work the other day. As I worked with an elementary age boy I noticed that he would poke the underneath side of my arm and then watch it swing back and forth. Poke. Swing. Poke. Swing.

“Are you poking my arm? Playing with my loose muscle?” I asked, stressing the words loose muscle. That’s what it technically was at one point. It was sheer brilliance for about two seconds.

Ever so nonchalantly, he slowly cocked his head to the side and said with quite assuredly, “That’s flab.”

Depends from what angle you’re sitting, I guess.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Signed A Lease

We signed a lease for a new apartment! After looking at 23+ apartments, we finally chose one. Ben would have picked apartment number three or four just to have been finished looking, but I was in search of the perfect one. Our new one may not be perfect, but it’s pretty darn good. And, we got the best New York deal ($) ever.

Our new apartment is 2x the size of our current place. To provide a point of reference, the living room/kitchen/entry way in our current place is roughly 10’3’’ by 12’ with 2 windows that look into our neighbor’s windows. The bedroom is a little smaller with a window that looks into an alley, and the bathroom has a mini (think airplane) sink.

Crunch those numbers and try that on for size.

Our new place is definitely bigger, and I am very, very thankful for that. The building is mostly Columbia graduate students, Julliard students, teachers, and professors - a good mix. I looked in one building that was all established families and realized that we’re not quite ready for that yet. Being loud at get-togethers and playing Wii Rock Band late at night is still a top priority.

Our new place was renovated about 10 years ago, so it’s newish. It’s on the 5th floor (there is an elevator) and gets lots of sunlight. It will be repainted, the floors refurnished, and the bathroom re-grouted in time for our arrival next Saturday. Exciting!

I am now on the hunt to find decent priced movers because I already put my foot down and declared that I will NOT move boxes and furniture up five flights of stairs. Can you imagine? Ben did it once and survived, so I know that it’s possible. But, I don’t think the two of us moving everything up five flights of stairs would be good for our marriage. And, I would not even dream of asking friends to help do that (everyone is off the hook).

In a nutshell, that’s the update on the apartment situation. We found a place. It’s bigger and better. We will NOT be homeless. We are very excited and ready for the big move!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Hunt

We are apartment hunting. Again. No easy task in New York City.

We’ve looked at roughly 20 apartments, and will continue to look at more tomorrow. I compare apartment hunting to dating. Let me explain.

You want to find “the one”. The perfect fit. The one apartment (or person) that has all of the qualities you have always dreamed about. But, you also want one at a good price. A price that is neither too costly nor leaves you bankrupt.

So, you go see a lot of apartments (or go on lots of dates with lots of different people). Before you see a new apartment, you cross your fingers and pray that this is the one and that you will never have to look again! But, within the first few minutes of entering the apartment (or being on a date), your heart sinks and you realize that this one just won’t do. The good doesn’t outweigh the bad. It’s awkward, or too small, or has no character. It’s boring, or dirty, or has an unpleasant view. Sometimes it needs a lot of updating. Maybe, it has small noticeable flaws that indicate potentially much bigger problems that you will not be able to fix.

You politely say “no thanks” and leave with a defeated and heavy heart. How many apartments (or people) do you have to see before finding a good one? How many apartments (or people) will you see before you find the one that is worth keeping? You don’t really want to settle for something (or someone) average. Ah, the headache.

Then, you think, maybe it’s just not meant to be. Everyone else found their perfect apartment (or person). Why can’t you?

But, before you jump into a pool of self-pity, something changes. Your hope and faith and belief that everything will work out starts to grow with every step you take on your walk home. You feel it in your gut. You just know that the perfect is waiting for you out there! You begin to get excited again. You feel a resurgence of hope and know that it will work out!

You cross your fingers and believe that tomorrow will be the day you find the perfect one. Tomorrow will give you the best, most perfect, suits-you-to-a-T apartment (or person). Since I did find “the one” perfect person, I have faith that I will find “the one” perfect apartment.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Found On A Phone Booth

We have neither a two bedroom apartment nor a large kitchen, but I'm sure we could work something out.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Quick Eats

I needed a little snack, a quick bite to eat while on the run. Where did I go? To McDonald’s Walk-Up Window, of course!

Our McDonald’s doesn’t have a drive-thru. Why would it? Most New Yorkers don’t drive. We instead have a ‘walk-up window’.

I joined a line of customers on the street. I placed, waited, and picked up my order from a smiling girl squeezed inside a small plexiglass box. What a brilliant, brilliant idea.


* Just want to note that we rarely eat McDonald’s now because there are so many local delis and restaurants in our neighborhood. Plus, fast food restaurants are not very popular in NYC.

** But, we are HUGE Subway fans thanks to the introduction of the $5 foot long.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Readers

Thank you to everyone who reads my blog. Readership has climbed from an average of two readers a day (Ben and myself) to four (Ben, myself, and my parents) to a now impressive 40-50 readers a day. I. AM. PRETTY. PROUD.

I started “Itty Bitty” when I first moved to New York and had no license, no job, and did nothing but watch Rock of Love and eat nachos all day. Naturally, Ben became worried about my mental health and suggested that I do something “creative” and “useful” to make the time pass. Fast forward to the evolution of the blog.

I always wanted to be a professional writer and photographer, and although this is a different form than I would have originally dreamed of, it works. I get to share experiences and memories with those I love. I hope that the friends and family who read Itty Bitty continue to enjoy it.

Thanks.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fourth of July

We went to the Cape for the 4th of July weekend.

Oh yes, the Cape... as in Cape Cod, Massachusetts... the only place to celebrate the fourth. Ha! Are you wrinkling your nose and swallowing a mouthful of disgust yet? Because I loooove the way it rolls off my tongue… “the Cape.” Makes us sound so New England snooty - like we chartered sailboats, wore loafers and salmon colored pleated shorts, and stayed at the Kennedy compound.

Seven of us rented a pretty rundown minivan to travel five hours from NYC to Cape Cod. Not only were we perpetually worried that the roof was going to blow off while driving, but the rubber piping that outlined the door fell out and the absent shocks made every pothole feel like a crater. Did I mention the vehicle had not been cleaned in the last 10,000 miles? Nonetheless, the old junker got us there. Thank you, Prestige car rentals.

We stayed at our friend’s parents’ house who were away for the weekend. We did nothing but cookout and go to the beach. Whenever we get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, all we want to do is relax and breathe clean air and enjoy knowing that we are the only people within a hundred foot radius. Several group members had trouble sleeping the first night because a nest of birds kept waking them up in the morning. Our ears are now tuned to busy streets full of honking taxis and car screeching – not the early morning wakeup calls from nature.

Below are some pictures from the weekend. I took some great pictures at the beach and more at the house, but most of them included us in our swimsuits. And, since I don't want to be blackballed from the group for posting swimsuit pics, those will just have to remain private.

A happy couple.


A group shot (minus 4 people).

Puppy love.


Kadima kept our group in shape for the weekend.
Luckily, no one sustained any serious injuries.

Nathan mans the bacon station at breakfast.

So Hollywood.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mama Mia!


Coincidentally, we (me, mom, Aunt Dorothy, Aunt Patty, Marilyn, and Janessa) happened to eat at the same restaurant in Little Italy that we ate at last year. We wouldn't have even recognized the restaurant if it weren't for the gregarious and effervescent personality of the host (pictured above) who wooed us off the street and into chairs by dancing and singing songs in Italian. More pictures below...


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What did you say?

It just so happened that a movie was being filmed as mom, Aunt Dorothy, Aunt Patty, Marilyn, Janessa, and I walked by Bryant Park last Sunday. We stood on one side of the street while they filmed on the other. Instinctively, my celebrity antennae zeroed in on someone in the crowd that looked young and hip enough to know who we should be watching. I turned to the girl beside me and said, "What movie is this?"

She said, in another language, "What?" That wasn't much help.

I then scanned the growing crowd for the closest member of the production crew and found a nice guy who told me that Harrison Ford and Rachel McAdams were across the street! I triumphantly returned to my group with the good news. I tapped the girl beside me on the shoulder and repeated (with gestures), "They are filming the movie Morning Glory."

"Maury Gloria?!" she replied with a quizzical look.

"Uh, yes," I said. "With Harrison Ford and Rachel McAdams."

Although, most of what I said didn't translate well, the name Harrison Ford did.

"HARRISON FORD!" she exclaimed throwing her hands in the air. I was amazed that his name translated so well. Who knew that Indiana Jones could stop a communication meltdown?

* I would have included a picture that I took, but Harrison is the size of a sharpened #2 pencil tip. Basically, unrecognizable. Time to purchase a telephoto lens!


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Chinatown

My mom, Marilyn, Janessa, Aunt Dorothy, and Aunt Patty visited us in New York City this past weekend. A Van Kersen/Hasenour/Boehm mix is always full of fun, laughs, and mishaps that can only happen with the right people in the right situation. This time, the situation involved six crazy women and the Big Apple. Kudos to Ben for surviving the weekend. He is INCREDIBLE at dealing with such a crew.

On the first day of their visit we checked out Chinatown so that Janessa could experience the absolute craziness that Canal Street has to offer. No New York experience is complete without a trip to Chinatown and the chance to bargain for knock-off designer purses. Here are a few pics...

Marilyn very excited about the potential bargains that await her in a hidden back room at a stall in Chinatown. In one fell swoop, Chinatown visitors can get a year's supply of birthday and Christmas presents.

If purses or sunglasses or faux Tiffany jewelry aren't your thing... how about a Rolex?

Mom on the lookout for a good deal.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Last Day of School

School ended on Friday.

Sigh.

My tiny school in Harlem is one of my favorite places in New York City, which says a lot about the place where I spend most of my days. Honestly, how many people can say that they LOVE where they work? Not. Too. Many. I love the kids, the teachers, and the staff… I could go on and on and make everyone jealous, but that wouldn’t be nice.

The last day of school is my favorite day of the year. It consists pretty much of pizza parties, hugs, and chaos – three things I dearly love. I particularly love the cards and drawings from the kids. They are so cute and sweet and original.

This year, I got a great letter from one of my best students (she will now be in second grade) who also happens to be the cutest little girl IN THE WORLD. It deserves to be spotlighted. Spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure are unchanged.

June /22/2009

Drea Miss. Muliszbit

You tech poeplo at school and you tech poeplo to lef up ore tung so they can lins too you tech them the th and the ch to you play games with us to when we do wrting wrok shop you tech us how to play bingo too.”

Translation: I teach people how to listen, AND lift their tongues to make the /th/ and /ch/ sounds, AND how to do ‘writing workshop’ while playing Bingo.

Could my kids get any cuter? Not possible. And, this proves it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Walk In The Park


Nathan and Ben enjoy a Sunday stroll through Central Park. A nice place to catch up with friends, people watch, and get a tan.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Another Celebrity Sighting

I shared a brief encounter with another celebrity this past weekend. Actually, I don't know if I consider a person with a small recurring role on an MTV reality series a celebrity per se... but, we'll go with it for now.

Ben and I ran into a bodega in Gramercy to get drinks for a party and there she was - Allie from the show "The City" starring Whitney Port - getting dinner. She's a model and, expectedly, very skinny. I spotted her right away. Ben had no idea who she was and even after I explained that she's Allie from The City which airs on MTV and whose target audience is tweens, he still didn't care. Humph.

Well, there you have it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Modern Dog Magazine

Guess what?!?! The first advertisement for Licks & Giggles is up on Modern Dog Magazine's website... and a photo I took is used in the ad! Can you spot the famous "Doggie BBQ" picture?

Go to Modern Dog Magazine website and click on SHOP. Every time the page refreshes the ads change places, so you may have to search for it.

Here is a screen shot with the ad top and center (just like it should be)...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summertime in the City

I love the summer in NYC. It’s the best time of year here. Period.

Every night, something exciting and new is going on somewhere with someone. Free concerts in the park, dining outside restaurants, movies on the pier, parties on rooftop decks… there is never a dull moment. With multiple groups of friends calling, each suggesting something fun to do... what’s a girl to do?

Summer suits me considering all of the leg transportation we, New Yorkers, do. It’s not so bad and I really don’t mind walking everywhere when the weather is nice, when it’s warm. I consider it my main form of exercise during the summer – a way to counterbalance all those desserts from the ice cream trucks parked at every corner.

If summer lasted all year round, I could stay here forever. And, due to the speedy process of global warming, that might be sooner rather than later. But, until then, I will have to accept myself as more of a snowbird in the winter and an NYC summer socialite in the summer.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hold Up

A couple of weekends ago, we ventured up to 113th street and Broadway for a graduation party. It was a nice part of town with sections of Columbia University wedged between brownstones and buildings. We climbed the stairs out of the subway and started walking down the sidewalk when we suddenly heard… “Get down! Everybody, GET DOWN!”

People dropped to the ground. They fled down the street. We stood, stricken with fear and confusion. I thought, is this it for Itty Bitty? Would her end really be in an old school quintessential New York way?

Ben flinched. Our girlfriend froze. I was nervous, yet slightly intrigued.

Suddenly, unmarked police vehicles squealed to a halt at the corner. Plain-clothes police officers jumped out and tackled a guy. Then they drug him a little ways down the street. Roughed him up, perhaps? I wasn’t close enough to see.

But, apparently, a lady with a first row seat did. She told us that the man tried to rob a stock boy from the corner bodega as he wheeled his cart of merchandise into the store. Miraculously, the police appeared (seemingly out of nowhere) and captured the bad guy, making our city safe again. Hip, hip hooray! Hip, hip hooray!

We continued to walk to the party pretty unfazed by the experience, which once again proved that our minds had slowly shifted to the New York mindset of Whatever, I’ve got places to be and people to see. It’s New York City, baby. My girlfriend said frankly, “If my dad was here to see that, he would have me on a plane back home right now.”

I totally agreed.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Del Brenna

This is Sebastian, the jewelry designer and maker from Italy, mentioned and photographed in an older post. He married one of Ben's cousins from Kansas. She was studying abroad in Italy when they met, fell in love, and got married. They now live happily ever after in Cortona (the place "where they filmed Under The Tuscan Sun") with their two family owned jewelry shops.


Sebastian exudes the such energy and life, and he called me "Elizabeta" all weekend, which I loved. Their jewelry and stores are called Del Brenna, and Sebastian outfitted each bridesmaid with a necklace and earrings. Visit Sebastian's store's website to admire the incredible craftsmanship and artistry of their jewelry.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sitting At The Big Kids' Table

My nephew, barely big enough, peeks over the table at the wedding in Kansas.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chocolate Robber

In Kansas, the wedding couple gave each invited guest staying at a hotel a gift bag that included snacks, an information booklet about the town, and a large box of Russell Stover chocolates. I love chocolate. So, I highly anticipated the quiet moments in our hotel room when I would get to try and savor each piece.

Most of the chocolate disappeared sometime between our arrival on Thursday night and the following Saturday morning. The chocolate left in the box exhibited bite marks or missing corners. I never thought about it, knowing that I was the one who nibbled on and taste-tested the pieces. Ben’s not a chocolate fan, so who would ever notice?

A three-year-old… that’s who.

Our three-year-old nephew repeatedly asked for candy on Saturday morning after smelling chocolate on my breath upon return to his room from ours. Finally, Ben took him to our room and when they came back, Theo walked directly toward me, looked me straight in the eye, and in front of my husband’s family asked, “Why you eat bites off ALL the chocolate?”

Ben echoed Theo’s sentiment with, “Yeah, Theo couldn’t find ANY pieces that weren’t half-eaten.”

Oops. Some aunt I am.