Thursday, May 28, 2009

Psychiatrist's are people too. Or something.

Last summer Mike and I signed up for couples counseling at this therapy center in Midtown.

Did I just tell the internet that we signed up for couples counseling? Yes, I did. Hold on a second while I find a soap box to climb up on....

I know some people shy away from therapy and couples counseling, but I think it's brilliant. The only reason we left couples counseling last time (we've been in and out for as long as we've been together. I swear it's why we still like each other) was because our therapist spent most of our sessions talking about herself instead of letting us talk. Let me provide a breif example of what our sessions were like:

Mike: She hits the snooze button like, fourteen times in the morning. It's infuriating!
Me: Well... I'm sorry! I don't do it on purpose.
Therapist: Oh my gosh. That is so funny. My husband does the same thing! It drives me crazy. We've tried everything to get him to wake up the first time the alarm goes off, but he just doesn't. Sometimes I want to smother him! 
Me: Uh... anyway, Mike stays up really late reading and I can't go to sleep if he's reading, so then I'm too tired to get up in the morning, so it's not entirely my fault.
Mike: Why don't you use that little eye pillow I bought you?
Therapist: My husband and I stay up late watching 30 Rock. That is just the best show! We're in the middle of season 2. We can't get enough of it! Have you watched it? It's great. My favorite character is Liz Lemon. I really identify with her. Except I'm married and I have a great sex life. And I'm not baby crazy. Ew, babies, gross! But we're both really smart women, very career oriented. I just think it's the greatest show.....

People who talk incessantly about nothing drive me crazy. But paying someone to talk incessantly about nothing? REALLY DRIVES ME CRAZY.

We should have suspected that this therapy place would be bunky, considering our initial experience there. Before we could start therapy, we had to be evaluated by a psychiatrist, and oh! What an experience that was. We showed up on the day of our evaluation and were greeted by the receptionist, a cheerful girl seated at a desk midway between the elevator and the administrative offices. She told us to have a seat in the waiting area, and that our evaluating psychiatrist would probably be a few minutes late. No problem, we said. It was 11:45 a.m. and our appointment wasn't until noon, so we sat back and started flipping through magazines. 

At 12:05 the elevator doors opened and an ancient, tiny, beautifully dressed woman stepped out of the elevator. Her bouffant hair-do was a glistening, snowy white. Her back was straight, her nails were manicured, her makeup flawless. I expected to watch her glide out of the elevator, a vision of elderly perfection, but instead she took a tentative step into the lobby and then began a slow and painful looking lurch towards the administrative office. I think it took her fifteen minutes to cross the fifteen foot lobby. Halfway through her journey, as she passed the reception desk, the receptionist chirped, "Good morning, Rita!" and she whipped her head up and spat, "WHO ARE YOU?"

The receptionist glanced over at Mike and I, then smiled weakly. She turned to Rita and said, "It's me, Rita. The daytime receptionist. Lauren."
"I don't know any Lauren." Rita hissed. Then she hobbled her way over to the administrative office. 

This little scene piqued my curiosity, so I craned my head around to see past the reception desk. The entryway to the administrative office was lined with mailboxes. Rita stood in front of them, pulling a stack of file folders from one, scrutinizing each folder with a furrowed brow. A minute later she turned and lurched back over to the reception desk. Eight minutes after that she reached the reception desk.

"Is there anything I can help you with, Rita?" Lauren asked.
Rita's eyes opened wide and her jaw dropped. "Who are you? How do you know my name?"
Lauren sighed. "I'm Lauren. The receptionist. What can I assist you with?"
"How did you get here?" Rita's mouth was gaping. She looked a little bit like a fish on land, gasping for water.
"I've worked here for the last seven months."
"Don't sass me, girl!"
Lauren took a deep breath, held it for a moment, then smiled. "Can I assist you with something?"
"I need my evaluation files."
"Aren't these your files?" Lauren asked, pointing to the stack of files in Rita's hand.
"No!" She huffed. "I need my files."
Lauren pulled a piece of paper from a drawer in her desk. "This is today's evaluation sheet," she explained, "and these are the names of your patients for today. They are the same names as the names on those files." Rita grimaced, blinked, examined the evaluation sheet. "See?" Lauren continued, "These are your files. They're all here."
Rita gasped. "Where did these come from??"
"... Your hand?"
"You were holding them. You got them out of your mailbox."
"My mailbox? What mailbox?"
Lauren closed her eyes and pressed her hand to her forehead. She took another deep breath and turned to me and Mike, innocent bystanders on a pleather bench. "Your 12 o'clock clients are here, Rita. Are you ready for them?"


Rita stared at the receptionist, blinking her eyes as if trying to clear something fuzzy from her vision. "What? ... Oh! Yes. I have a new couple today. Do you know if they're here?"
"They're sitting right behind you. They're all ready to go."
"Who is?"
"Mike and Tricia Frost."
"Who's that?"
"... Your 12 o'clock clients..."
"Yes. I have a new couple. Are they here?"
"They're right behind you."
Rita looked over her shoulder, a four-minute maneuver, looked right at me and Mike, and turned back to Lauren. "No, he isn't. I don't see him."
"Him? No, Rita. It's a couple. They're right there."
"A couple? Why would I see a couple?"

At which point I stood up and introduced myself. In retrospect, I should have grabbed my purse and my husband and run screaming in the other direction, but I'm too polite. Or I'm too much like a throw rug. Either one. So I held out my hand and said, "I'm Tricia Frost. This is my husband. We're here to be evaluated for couples counseling."
Rita stared at me, mouth agape. Then she whispered to Lauren, "Who are those people? Why are they looking at me?"
"This is the couple that has a 12 o'clock appointment to be evaluated by you."
"I don't have a client."
"Yes, you are seeing a couple at 12 o'clock. Mike and Tricia Frost. It's right here on the evaluation schedule."
"Oh. Where's their file?"
"In your hand."
"No, it isn't."
Lauren pointed to the file clutched in Rita's bony hand. "It's right there. In your hand."
"Where'd that come from?"

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An Update

I know, I know. Last Wednesday I said I would resume normal posting the following day and then I never did. But I've been in a total slump, you guys. 

In the last few months, this blog has turned into something I started to feel really proud of. My morning writing hours became precious and sacred. Two weeks ago I decided I wanted to start submitting some of my little stories for publication and literally, the next day, I managed to not make time to write. Because, you know. There were piles of crap in the living room and laundry to do. And then the next day, I did it again. And then two weeks went by and I just think it's really interesting that I made this decision, to really be a writer, and all of my ideas completely dried up. 

All right, that isn't entirely true. I have thirty-five stories that I've started, that I just can't make go anywhere. THIRTY-FIVE. My mother says they are eggs that are incubating, and will soon hatch. I hope she's right. Because this? This inability to write anything that interests me? IT'S DEPRESSING.

Bare with me. Bear with me? I still don't know which it is. In the mean time, how about an apartment update?

Our new home is slowly, but surely, but very slowly, coming together. Mike built us a gorgeous bed frame out of lumber he found on the street:
I love that man and his ability to find trash on the street and make beautiful things with it. 

We have several different ideas for making a headboard, all of them costing us nuthin' but elbow grease, but we have yet to actually execute any of them. I'm lobbying for Mike to build me an entryway table today. Or at least a shelf on which to keep the bin of worms I want to buy for indoor composting. Yum!

The removing-the-paint-from-the-bathroom-tile project is a holy disaster. I keep thinking I never should have EVER messed with it, but the thing is, I couldn't help it. The paint started peeling off the tiles after our sixth shower, and I knew I'd never be able to really clean the shower without all that paint peeling off anyway. I figured I'd be making my life a whole lot easier if I just stripped the tiles. What I didn't realize is that the reason they were painted in the first place was to hide the fact that they are so filthy and old and wrecked that they literally burn your eyeballs when you look at them. I just figured they had been painted ... out of laziness? But really? They were painted for our protection.

While bathing Valentine, Mike has to hold her face away from the hideously 
cracked and stained tiles to protect her vision. 

I asked Mike how much time and money it would take for us to re-tile the shower and he almost passed out. I guess it's out of the question. I tried bleaching the tiles, by the way. I tried using liquid bleach. I tried using bleach powder. I tried bleach pens. All a waste of time and money. I must resign myself to having a filthy looking, cracked tile shower. But you know what? I bought a shower head that is so fabulous, what with it's high water pressure and twelve different settings including a mister and one that mimics rain, that as long as I keep my eyes closed, it's like I'm showering in heaven. So there. Oh! And also? WE HAVE A BATHROOM SINK.

My nephew John sent me this quote recently: "Life's not about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain." 

Life is one complicated mother fucker and I've never been a good dancer. But I'm trying. I'm still trying. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reaching Out

All right, you guys. I'm sorry I haven't posted in seven (gasp!) days, but things have been hectic. I will resume regular posting tomorrow, but in the mean time, I wanted to share some exciting news with you.


I just applied to AmeriCorps

I'm really excited. I was in the process of applying for the NYC Teaching Fellowship and today they sent me an email about a new program called NYC Civic Corps. Were I to be hired, it would be my job to help organize volunteering programs in NYC, either for healthcare, education, environmental issues, neighborhood safety, strengthening communities or emergency preparedness. Talk about doing something that matters, man. I'm shaking I'm so excited.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Regarding the last post:

Dr. Smith comes in this morning and sees his message from caller Jane Doe from yesterday. And starts LAUGHING. He looks at me and says, "Did you take this message?"

"Yes, I did."
"Pssshhh. I'm not writing this woman a letter! SHE'S CRAZY."
"Uh ... Yeah. That was pretty clear."

And then I told him what I told you guys.

And he rolled his eyes and said, "She's never going to be a therapist because she's nuts. She refuses to cooperate with our program. She's NOT a student in good standing because she won't do ANY of the things she needs to do to be a good student. What a nut job."

He said that.

He called her a 'nut job'.


Also? I just drank a dirty vodka martini on an empty stomach. But know what? I TOTALLY DESERVE IT. IT'S BEEN A LONG WEEK. So there. Now I'm going to lay inb ed and wathc the entire second seaosn of Heroes'. And also typeing while tpsy is a bad idea. Wheeeeeeeee~!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This woman thinks she should make her living by helping people work through their issues.

Me: Good afternoon, Dr. Smith's office.

Caller: Dr. Smith, please.

Me: I'm sorry, he's not in today. May I take a message?

Caller: Doesn't he have voicemail?

Me: He prefers hand-written messages.

Caller: (Big sigh.) Fine. My name is Jane Doe. I'm a student of his. I'm changing schools and I need him to write a letter explaining that I'm a student in good standing.

Me: (writing, writing, writing, writing.)

Caller: HELLO?

Me: I'm writing down your message. Hold on.

Caller: (Exasperated sigh.)

Me: All right. Your phone number?

Caller: Read it back to me.

Me: Uh...


Me: "Jane Doe, a student of yours, is transferring schools and would like you to write a letter proving she's a student in good standing."

Caller: I don't have to prove anything. Why did you write that?

Me: ....

Caller: I know I'm a good student. I don't have to prove anything. Rewrite the message.

Me: I didn't mean to insinuate that you have anything to prove, it's just what I wrote down.

Caller: Well, I don't have anything to prove, so rewrite the message.

Me: ... all right ... (writing, writing, writing, writing)

Caller: HEL-LO?

Me: I'm still writing....

Caller: (More exasperated sighing.) Read it back when you're done.

Me: "Jane Doe is one of your students. She's transferring schools and would like you to write a letter stating that she is a student in good standing."

Caller: What's wrong with you?? You need to do it again. Only this time, write that I'm leaving his school and starting up somewhere else and that's why he needs to write me the letter.

Me: How about I write you a letter stating that you're a micro-managing BITCH and that you ought to get therapy rather than give it?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Making dreams come true.

About a week ago, Michael and the dogs were locked out of the apartment. Of course he called the super to let him in, but the super was away and would not be home for at least two more hours, and I was temping for the day. So Mike decided to make lemonade out of lemons and use the time to explore our new neighborhood.

He discovered something grand:

Three blocks from our front door is a trail that leads off into a forest.

Um, hi! WE LIVE IN HARLEM. Not Inwood*, not Fort Tryon**. Harlem. Who knew there were forests in Harlem?? I didn't know that. Did you? Well, there are. Is. There is a forest in Harlem. And even though it is very small and very much littered with broken glass and condom wrappers and soda cans and even though you never escape the sound of traffic at any point on the trail, IT IS HEAVENLY.

(Perhaps you would not think it heavenly if you were used to living in a place where you were surrounded by huge forests, but I am used to living in a place where I am surrounded by huge steel buildings and masses of filthy concrete. It is all about perspective.)

(I think I will start walking in my forest with a garbage bag so I can pick up trash as I go. Then my Harlem Forest Trail will be even more beautiful.)

The last three days in a row, immediately after breakfast and coffee, Mike and I have leashed up the dogs and taken them to the forest, where, once we're about 100 feet in, we take off their leashes and watch as they gleefully charge ahead of us. I cannot explain the joy I feel when I watch those two little dogs tumbling, free of their leashes, romping amongst the grasses and trees, snuffling in the underbrush, exploring their surroundings.

Having them off-leash frees us to walk as leisurely as we want, holding hands or with our arms wrapped around each other's waists, like newlyweds. It reminds Mike and I how much we enjoy each other's company and how much we love those perfect little dogs - how much they love and trust us. My heart melts when Valentine stops in the middle of the trail, watching over her shoulder to make sure we catch up with her.

Theo is more in his own universe - a universe where the quest for rotting food never ends. We know he's a city dog because the squirrels and the birds? No reaction. If he gets held up on the trail, his nose under a log and his ears shut off from our calls, you can bet it's an old piece of pizza he's sniffing out and not the trail of some small animal.

My one major concern about moving so far uptown was that in order to get to Central Park, I would have to take the subway, which meant that I probably wouldn't ever take the dogs to Central Park again. Dogs on the subway = hassel that is totally not worth it. I really treasured our early morning off-leash adventures in Central Park and was sad to think we'd never do that again. Then Mike happened upon the forest and you know what? It is WAY better. Closer, quieter, more secluded, more beautiful. And off-leash any time of the day.

I needed this. I really needed this. Remember last year when I was lusting after large, open spaces? Maybe I can't grow a vegatable garden in my forest, but I can let my hounds run wild while I hold my husband's hand and turn my face upwards into the sunlit strewn sky.

*Inwood is The Greenest Place in Manhattan. It is surrounded by old-growth forest on three sides.
**Fort Tryon is also incredibly green and lush. Sibley loves it but I have yet to explore it.

P.S. Click on any of the photos to see to get a bigger view.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Thursday, May 07, 2009

If you're my mother, you might want to skip this. Also, if you're under 18, shield your virgin eyes.

Me: If we had a son, would you want to circumcise him?

Him: I don't know. I've never thought about it. ... ... ... Why? Do you have strong feelings about it?

Me: Not really. I kind of don't want to do it because I'm afraid of the open wound. Wounded infant penis is scary.

Him: It's no big deal.

Me: And what if the doctor's knife slips? And cuts it off?

Him: That's not going to happen.

Me: But then I do want to do it because I'm worried he'll get made fun of if we don't.

Him: That's ridiculous. Who would make fun of him?

Me: Immature, uninformed teenage girls. Or boys. Whichever. They're both vicious.

Him: Our son is not going to be showing his penis to girls or boys when he's in high school.

Me: Dude. Of course he is.

Him: He is not.

Me: Well, he won't be waving it around, but he's going to be getting handjobs and stuff.

Him: No, he's not.

Me: Don't you want our son to be a healthy teenage boy?

Him: Healthy teenage boys don't run around getting handjobs.

Me: (A sideways look.) Um... he'll be a freak with a capital 'F' if he makes it through his senior year without getting a handjob.

Him: ... ... ...

Me: Oh my god.

Him: I'm done talking to you.


Him: I'm leaving the room now.

Me: But you had girlfriends! How did you - ?

Him: We never had this conversation.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

We don't hold back here.

I was at the laundry mat tonight and bumped into one of my neighbors. 


Why was I at the laundry mat when I have a perfectly lovely laundry room in the basement of my fabulous new apartment? Because Theo has regressed since our move and is punishing us for disrupting his life by pissing wherever he wants, whenever he wants. And last night he felt like pissing rivers all over my down comforter. It's a good thing he's pretty.

Anyway, Mike wasn't able to wash the comforter today and I didn't get home from work until after seven and the basement closes at seven, so if I wanted to sleep with a clean comforter tonight, which I did, I had to walk down the block and wash my comforter at the laundry mat. (How's THAT for a run-on sentence? Anyone want to correct it? Anyone? I DARE YOU.)

So I'm at the laundry mat (how long is it going to take for me to tell this story? Years. Seriously. Years.) and I'm REALLY REALLY GRUMPY because, of course, this is the 26th day of my .... erhm .... cycle, and so I believe that Mike didn't wash the comforter on purpose, because he hates me. Because that makes sense. Not washing piss-soaked comforter = spouse hates you. While I'm at the laundry mat Mike calls me to tell me all about this community volunteering meeting he went to, and he's all excited, but I'm Grumpy so I say:

And he's all: "What are you so mad about?" 
And then he's all: "What did I do?" 

And then I hang up on him. (Aren't I pleasant?) That's when I notice my next-door neighbor standing beside to me. I smile weakly, because I'm grumpy and have no energy for smiles. 

She looks me up and down for a minute and then she says, "Damn. You were such a bitch on the phone."
"Pardon me?"
"I said, You were such a bitch on the phone."
And then I laughed. Because, you know what? She was totally right.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

After brunch with friends.

Me: No, I was ready WAY before you.
Him: Um, whatever. I only got sidetracked because I was waiting for you.
(Awkward pause.)
Me: We should stop arguing. We're making our friends uncomfortable.
Kevin: No, no. It's ok.
Me: Than why do you look so uncomfortable?
Beth: He always looks uncomfortable after he eats.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Beware of the little blonde! Her makeup is deadly.

Earlier this week, while rushing to make it to my temp job on time, I was stopped by NYPD for a random bag check. I've seen this on the subway platforms before: Puffed up, macho police officers standing behind a table, stopping people to check their bags for... drugs? Bombs? An inappropriate abundance of lip gloss? I don't know. All I care about is making sure they don't stop me so that I won't miss my train. Such would not be my luck on this sweaty early Summer day when the black long sleeved shirt and jeans I picked out that morning were all wrong for the humid heat. Was that what made them stop me? Long sleeves and jeans on a hot day? Did I look as if I might be concealing something in my sleeves? Or was it the heavy eyeliner I was wearing? Maybe I looked like an emo kid who might blow up the SoHo station. Or maybe it's just that I'm a cute little blonde with big boobs and the officers wanted to get their rocks off?

One of the reasons I hate traveling is because of the ridiculous security checks in airports. Whenever I'm in one of those lines, stripping off my coat, taking off my shoes, emptying my pockets into plastic bins, I feel like a crazy person. For one thing: Um, hi! COULD IT BE ANY MORE VIOLATING? I don't believe there is anyway to make "random" bag checks truly random. Unless they check every single bag, the person getting their bag checked will feel as if they are being discriminated against. At least, I feel discriminated against. It doesn't help that usually I'm being checked by a man and usually he fondles my most personal feminine items. The urge I have to rip the heads off of people who are sifting through my dirty underpants and tampons is primal, I tell you. Primal. One time, a male officer made me open my suitcase and then he dumped it out all over a table and sifted through my clothes, shaking out each item individually. He picked my dirty underpants out of the pile and waved them around in the air as if they were flags. "What are you doing?!?" I shrieked. "Protecting America from terrorism," he said. Last time I checked, terrorism wasn't living in my panties. Paris Hilton's panties? TOTALLY DIFFERENT STORY.

Police check points in the subway are no better. The minute that officer eyeballed me I had to remind myself to take deep breaths. A gloating smile and, "We need to check your bag, Miss," caused me to clench my fists and bite my tongue to keep from snatching my bag away and screaming, "GET YOUR FILTHY FINGERS OFF MY PURSE, YOU PIG." What would have happened if I'd refused to let him check my bag? Don't I have a constitutional right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure? But I didn't say anything. I noticed the last person checked, a pretty woman collecting her purse from the table, noticed her perky figure and long blonde hair, and then I realized the officer was staring at my chest. And leering at me. I blinked through the red I started seeing and placed my bag on the table in front of him. 

"What is this all about?" I asked, trying not to raise my voice.
"We're doing random bag searches, checking for explosive materials. That's why I picked you. Because it's random." Sneered the twenty-something cop who looked like he'd spent the last five years eating all of his meals at Dunkin Donuts. 
"Don't you know what 'random' means?" 
"No, gee! Why don't you tell me, officer?"
Officer Cliché frowned. At least he understood sarcasm. "We're protecting the public from terrorism." 
"Yeah, terrorism. Ever hear of 9-11?"

There is a panic button at work so that if I ever have a gun in my face I can call for help. The one time I hit that button it took NYPD an hour and half to respond. AN HOUR AND A HALF. I'm glad to know that if I ever have a gun in my face the NYPD will not help me, but instead, they will spend their days checking the purses of cute girls in subway stations. After all, you never know what might be hiding amongst the lip gloss and mascara. Tampons can be very dangerous.