Today a stranger sat on my lap


I was on the subway today, completely engrossed in my book, when I heard a woman say “I’m just going to squeeze in.” I looked up and realized she was heading right at my lap.  It was sooo weird.  I mean, she didn’t actually end up on my lap, more like my leg.

If any of you are familiar with the numbered New York subway cars, the middle benches have bars that roughly separate them into 3 and 4 seater blocks.  I was on one of the 3 seater sides, with two far from lithe people also on my side.  I had been leaning all the way back into the bench so she was able to squish herself onto the edge, forcing a third of my butt behind the separator bar and requiring me to wrap one leg over the other.

When we reached the next stop and a number of people on the opposite bench got off the subway, she gave no indication of moving.  So I poked her in the shoulder (she was engrossed in a conversation with her friend sitting across the way) because I literally was trapped behind her, having maybe 5 inches in front of me that weren’t blocked by either her body of the bar.  She shot me a dirty look and with great disdain asked why I was bothering her.  When I explained that she was essentially sitting on me and squishing me and that I would like to move to the wide open seats, she sighed and and shifted so I could get out.

I understand that NYC is crowded, but this was ridiculous.  Worse yet, she only rode three stops before getting off.

I took a picture of this absurdity (or at least the bench once I had evacuated) to share here, with my husband, and really anyone else I could get to listen to me, but apparently my phone did not like it and it has disappeared.

And the rest of my ride, I was leaning forward, legs sprawled wide, staking on my share of the bench.



The past two years, the closest thing I’ve had to a New Year’s resolution is to read a book for each week in the year…I haven’t set any stipulation on actually reading one book each week, just 52 books in the entire year.  In 2010, I only made it to 29.  I suppose had I actually reached 52, I might not have made the same resolution. 2011 got off to a very slow start.  I suppose wedding planning might have had something to do with that.

But this month, my reading has really taken off.  My recent acquisition of my NY public library card definitely helped, as did my new found love of my Kindle.  I knocked off 8 in September and have four more in progress, but I’ll really have to pack them in over the next three months if I want to hit 52.  Meeting this number is not something I am going to force myself to do.  And that’s probably the reason why I wasn’t the least bit upset to not meet my goal in 2010.  I just love reading too much to make myself unhappy about it.  Last night, I giddily browsed NYPL’s Kindle offerings, happily checking out books, or more often, adding them to my holds, as most already had substantial waiting lists.  I was disappointed when the system cut me off at 12 Kindle holds, but I’ll survive.

My top reads thus far in 2011 are Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks, A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz, Bossypants by Tina Fey (my first Kindle read – the picture on the cover was too terrifying for me to pick up the actual book), and At Home by Bill Bryson.

Do you have any favorite books?  I always love being introduced to new authors, especially when they have vast bibliographies.  I’m looking at you, Alexander McCall Smith.  I was a fairly early convert to AMS.  If you haven’t read him yet he has several series, of which The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency are probably the best known.  I recommend picking up the first of any of his series, asap. They are easy reads but entertaining and very well written. My favorite AMS memory is of a trip I took with my Mom to Scotland.  We’d spent a day sightseeing but when it deteriorated to a grey rainy evening, we decided to go scotch tasting. It was a disaster (not that my Mom and I got trashed and stumbled around Edinburgh, though that would have been entertaining; we just sipped two different kinds and realized we both hate scotch), so we went to a bookstore, picked up an Alexander McCall Smith book each, and retired to our warm and cozy to drink tea instead.  It was a glorious evening.


Post Call Cubicle

D started an ICU rotation yesterday and jumped right in with a 24 hour call.  This is a really brutal schedule – call day, post call day, day of rounds, repeat.  Unlike other overnight calls, this one is known to afford very little time for rest at the hospital.  Sure enough, D arrived home a little after 7 this morning, looking awful having gotten no rest.

My general game plan is to be up and about to head out on his post call days.  We live in a studio, and understandably, he needs total silence to sleep.  Typing and the turning of book pages have both been deemed too disruptive in the past.  However, this morning my plan of providing him with an empty apartment was ruined as the abdominal pains I went to bed with last night failed to disappear overnight, as I had hoped. The last thing I wanted was to have what is now a minor annoyance to turn into crippling pain or nausea in the middle of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a 45 minute subway ride from home.  So, basically, I have one option for maintaining quiet and staying home: the bathroom.  I’ve been holed up for over an hour now, daydreaming of the July when we’ll be able to trade up to something a little more spacious.  Even a one bedroom would feel palatial at this point.

Thursday Randomness

On the subway into Manhattan this morning, a man and his pre-school age son boarded and took the seat across from me .  The father was playing music on his cell phone and he and his son were rapping (singing, although it was really more like talking) along with it.  I thought this was adorable for a few minutes until it became clear the father was far more into it than his son, who really just seemed to want to play with the dinosaurs he was holding.  By then all of the previously empty seats had been filled.  Just a stop later, a woman and her even younger daughter boarded and sat next to the man and son.  She was also playing music on her phone.  The cacophony of tinny music blaring through my section of the car was headache inducing.

I went down to the tip of Manhattan to see Bowling Green park.  It’s a tiny piece of land just above Battery park and is the oldest park in New York City.  I was inspired to make the long trip to see this because I am reading a book about New York City and it keeps being mentioned.  It’s historical fiction and the endorsement from USA Today on the cover doesn’t really inspire me to think it is a quality work of piece, but I am enjoying it nonetheless. Although only because I get excited every time a place I recognize is mentioned.  This is what happens when you spend your childhood in a place that people often only have a vague sense of its’ existence. (I once had somebody say to me “You’re from X?”  Isn’t that off of the coast of Africa?  You don’t look black; were your parents missionaries or something?”  My utterly shocked expression quickly ended that conversation).

On that note my husband and I returned to our home state last week for a visit.  We stayed at my parents’ home and I could not get over how few people were around.  Then I remembered that when we were young my brother and I would entertain ourselves on lazy summer days by running to the picture window every time a car drove by our house to see who it was.  And there were regularly only 6 vehicles a day.  Two of them being our mom turning out of and into our driveway on her way to and from work.  On the rare occurrence of an unfamiliar vehicle passing, we would discuss in great length who it might be and where they might be driving.

Finally, I am really excited because I just found out today that library book check-outs are finally available on Kindle! I checked out two from NYPL today!  I think this was only rolled out this week, so I am not even too far behind on this development.

On Being A Doctor’s Wife – Some Days Just Suck

(I’m channeling my junior high self with that title)

When I started writing these “On Being A Doctor’s Wife” posts,  I set out to explain how I came to be here and then gush about how wonderful it actually is.  I had all of these great things to say.  How nice it is to have someone around who can stitch you up (very useful given my tendency to slice myself up).  How I just as well could be married to a banker or a lawyer who had equally ridiculous, but unpredictable hours (at least I know when my husband is going to be at the hospital on call, right?!). How while right now the pay is crummy and the hours are long, at least D is doing work that helps people, not just makes money for investors (and as a bonus, he loves his work).

But then I had a couple of really crappy days.  It’s not that anything truly bad happened, but boy was I in a foul mood by the end.  It started when D had a super golden weekend (I don’t actually know the medical world phrase for this kind of weekend): post-call Friday with both Saturday and Sunday off.  It would have been the perfect opportunity catch a bus to explore Boston or take an even longer drive up the coast.  We could have gone camping.  Hell, had we really been on the ball, we could have caught a flight somewhere beachy or exotic.  And when D left for work on Thursday we planned to get out of town.  I spent the day researching campsites, hotels, activities, directions.  But when he got home the next day (after for once having had a restful evening on call), he decided that he should probably read and research fellowship programs. I mean, it’s good that he is being responsible, but these opportunities are just so rare. And, in my mind I was sure we were leaving town and I really dislike last minute change of plans of this sort.

Unfortunately, my other examples are equally, ummm, petty.  Ya, I’ll go with that. Definitely complaints of the privileged.  I have a good friend from university who is from Armenia.  Her parents are both physicians.  After she was already in the U.S., her father took a position in Yemen just so he could earn more than $150 a month.  As a PHYSICIAN!  He got to return to Armenia once or twice a year to visit her mom and brother. And this is still a quasi-middle class problem. Her parents weren’t worried about just keeping food on the table and a roof over their heads.  There are plenty of spouses who are separated in politically unstable countries, not knowing if the other is even alive. I really have nothing to complain about.

10 Years

As Sunday is nearly upon us, news shows, newspapers, and the internet are all full of stories of how individuals were impacted ten years ago. I’m sure that most of you, like me, remember just where you were when you first learned of the events.  I was making my way, bleary-eyed, to the communal bathrooms in the dorm I lived in my freshman year of college.  A girl asked if I’d been watching tv.  My answer was no, my roommate and I didn’t even own one, but by that time she was halfway down the hall.  In the bathroom, the radio told me what the girl had hinted at.  It was still early enough and there were a lot of unknowns.  I finished getting ready and headed to class as I would on any Tuesday.  Later in the morning, I remember sitting in language lab (where I was supposed to be practicing my pronunciation), fixated on the news footage on the tiny tv at my station. That day I stayed in the lab well over my required time. The following days were eerie.  I recall standing in the middle of campus, staring up, thinking how odd it was to see a completely blue sky unmarred by a single con trail.

Ten years later I am living in New York and I find myself reflecting on that day regularly. I am certain my thoughts are very different from what they would be had I not moved here.  I now recognize streets in photos from the day.  My husband and I can see the crane on top of the One WTC site from our apartment balcony.

I helped at the World Police and Fire Games that were held here over the past few weeks.  I watched as competitors from Brazil, Italy, Kazakhstan, Seattle, approached the New York participants and asked if they had any memorabilia to trade or sell.  I am sure that many of them, like me, looked at the older members of the New York contingency and wondered what role they had played.  How many colleagues had they lost.  And, meeting the young New Yorkers, wondered if they had been inspired to join the ranks by that day.

In 2001, the attacks were very real, yet at the same time, very surreal.  Today, through a combination of proximity, maturity, and experiences shared by survivors and by those who lost loved ones, the events of September 11th are more real than ever to me

I have seen posters encouraging people to post online what they will do on Sunday in remembrance of September 11, 2001.  Do you have any plans?



Battling Procrastination

It turns out that unemployment, even when I fill my weeks with volunteer activities, book clubs, and museum wanderings, gets old after a few months.  It also makes me really sad to watch my bank account dwindle.

I’ve reached the time that, even before the wedding, I told myself I had to start my job search.  I guess I am being very successful, that is if you consider looking up jobs to be searching.  You know, as opposed to actually applying for any.  So long as I’ve actually been in New York, I’ve looked at open positions nearly every workday.  But applying…not so much.

I’m halfway through my first cover letter and realizing how much I hate the job search process. I remember from my last job search, which ended less than two years ago, that it did get easier as time went by.  But, uggh, it’s procrastination central at my apartment.  (On a completely unrelated note (ha!), I’ve been cooking dinner from scratch nightly and baking quite a bit, which makes my husband happy).  So, I’ve told myself that I must finish two applications before I can partake in any weekend fun this evening.

Wish me luck, please!