Category Archives: mr. ben

The Big Easy

This is the fantastic Google map we put together for our holiday vacation 2010, codename: “Persistence.” Twice JetBlue canceled our flights to New Orleans because of the blizzard — you know, the one that was highly anticipated and yet took everyone by surprise, much like the difficulty of raising children. (I imagine.)

So, on the day that Brooklyn was flooded with snow, and no one had shoveled sidewalks or plowed streets, Mr. Ben and I threw on expressions of great determination, and dragged our suitcases behind us to the subway station — an exercise that gave me new insight into what it must be like to dispose of a dead body. We took that train to Penn Station, where we waited 45 minutes for a delayed and usuriously overpriced Acela train to DC.

My little brother, god rest his soul, volunteered to pick us up at Union Station and ferry us over to Don’t-You-Dare-Call-It-Reagan National Airport. And from there, at long last and great expense, we caught a new, on-time flight to New Orleans, where the weather was a crisp 40 degrees but the ground blessedly free of snow.

We made it to our hotel on Bourbon Street and collapsed. Yes, I know, Bourbon Street is Boobies Street, a hilarious choice for a non-drinker and non-exhibitionist who likes her sleep, but when you plan things last minute, you have to make some concessions. The hotel itself was pleasant enough but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who doesn’t enjoy hopscotching around puddles of vomit on their way home at night.

Virtually everything else about our trip to N’awlins though was vomit-free and, frankly, spectacular. The food — from crayfish omelettes to hidden Vietnamese cafes! The music!

As vain as a fat man can be

That’s New Orleans’ own Dr. John, with whom we had an appointment at the famous club, Tipitina’s. We made it to the very front row and so stood close enough to the old-time blues man that we could make out the paisley print on his buttercup-yellow silk shirt and smell the marijuana drifting off the stage.

The houses!

Look at that porch!

This one was in Treme, where American music was born — at least according to the guide of our walking tour and our friend Robert, the docent of the Backstreet Cultural Museum:

These things are made by hand

Robert was full of stories from the many years he spent working for the mob bosses who own and run the French Quarter. Incidentally, he makes those fantastic Mardi Gras Indian costumes — one a year — by hand.

In short, whether tromping through cemeteries or parks or museums or zoos, we were in Heaven. Isn’t this what Heaven looks like, after all?

Photo by Mr. Ben

Photo by moi

These and more, btw, on Flickr.

An Exciting Summer

Now that he has recovered and once again looks as pretty as Betty Draper, I can show you this. Ready? This is the Before shot. It’s a little gruesome but, let’s be honest, also a little bit of a turn on, am I right? Mr. Ben, post-trauma:

Aftermath of the accident

Now I can look at it without cringing (in fact I keep a copy on my iPhone, the way men used to carry photos of their spouse and kids in their wallets). At the time, I walked in the door, saw him, and burst into tears. I may have said, like Amy in “Little Women” did when Jo cut her hair, “How could you! Your one beauty!” But only for effect.

To add to the drama of this hottest-July-on-record, I went to my very first NYT-sanctioned, gay, Jewish wedding in a Friends Meeting House this past weekend. The lovely Mr. Ben scraped himself off the floor of his office, where he has been spending all of his time since he finished recovering from head trauma, to accompany me. Also lovely: hanging out with lots of Swatties in floral dresses and sneaking downstairs to play ping pong in Tarble with Little Eva.

Less lovely, and more in keeping with the themes of Summer 2010: One of the brides collapsed under the chuppah. It was about 110 degrees outside, where we had all spent a lemonade-infused cocktail hour, and the FMH, where the wedding was held, had no air-conditioning. The Quakers, bless their well-lit, self-abnegating souls, nearly had blood on their hands.

It being a Jewish wedding, about ten doctors immediately rushed forward. Everything about me was paralyzed except my heart, which sounded like a popcorn popper — I couldn’t help but remember what happened the last time I saw someone collapse at a wedding.* In this case, the bride was revived and she and her co-bride finished out the ceremony sitting on the floor hand-in-hand. They rose to stomp on one glass each to a shout of “Mazel tov!” from the very-relieved crowd.

I also chipped my toenail polish. A lesser tragedy, I guess. Could the rest of this summer manage to be a little calmer, please? Or, for your own sakes, would you all promise not to ride bikes or get married until this cloud has passed. Thank you.

*Not to give the story away but it was the priest officiating my babysitter’s nuptials and he, um, died. Just like that. (He was old; I was only 10. Those sorts of things leave a mark.)

Trajectory of a Weekend (and a Face)

I went down to DC for this:

And returned first thing the next morning to this:

Poor Mr. Ben finally got a break from work at some point over the weekend and he celebrated with a bike ride to Far Rockaway with a couple of friends. He made it all the way to the middle of nowhere, then flew off his bike, landed on his face, and had to be taken to a hospital.

When you have head trauma necessitating reconstructive surgery, you do not want to be in Brooklyn (“Shocking Video Shows Brooklyn Hospital’s Neglect as Patient Dies in Emergency Room”) in July (“A recent study found that more patients die of medical mistakes in the month of July than any other month”). Especially not on a Federal Holiday.

In many respects, Mr. Ben was very lucky. Our two friends who were with him acted as surrogate parents, amping up their concern to the level of Shirley MacClaine in Terms of Endearment as necessary, while the army surgeon called in by the hospital stitched Mr. Ben’s face back together. He didn’t lose any teeth or break anything except his nose.

Poor nose! It already had a Bert-ish sort of thing going on. In fact we ARE Bert & Ernie:



I mean, right? Even the initials match up.

Anyway, Mr. Ben / Bert will be recovering at our apartment for the next few days. If, like Mr. Collins, you would like to condole with him, he is there, receiving guests, flowers, and ideas for what his nose should look like once the plastic surgeon is done with it.

This is not bragging

I’m just saying, publicly, that I feel I made the right decision in marrying the person I did.

Hey sweetie,

You now have an appointment for [time] tomorrow with Simone at the [place] on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn. It’s Swedish massage, though she can do “deep work” if necessary. Just tell them that the class was purchased as part of a series under my name.

Does that work for you?


In a time when, apparently, people are spatting about their relationships on the You Face, it’s got to be worth it to extend some gratitude on a blog. Right? Right.

Also, I love you and you and you and you and you. You, less so. (You know who you are.) And if any of you buy me an impromptu massage, I will bless you on the Internets too.

a swelling heart

I love this illustrated essay from the NYT: “May It Please the Court.”

I love the power of context to say, sometimes, what words can’t:

I love having neighbors, especially ones with a roofdeck, thanks to which I have my very first suntan of the season.

I love that I live with someone who loves me more than I love me, and gives me something to strive for everyday. Also he hangs pictures. Welcome, Marilyn, to Montague Street!

I love that it’s in the 80s and beautiful today, that our windows are flung open and I’m wearing a bright blue dress, that I have a new book from the library and what feels like all the time and the all the luck in the world.


There’s a line between being active and proactive (good) and trying to control things you can’t control (bad) and trying to make things happen just to shift the weight off your goddamn shoulders already (crazy). I’m straddling that line and it feels like a permanent wedgie. Help me, lord.

Actually this is one of those moments I wish I did believe in a higher, guiding, benevolent force in the universe. Then maybe I could lay back and think:

– the fact that I have not yet secured us an April 1 rental, despite spending every day shuttling from one middling apartment to another is all part of the plan

– the fact that, after a month, the bank has still not rubber-stamped our pre-approval so that we could forward with our potential purchase is all part of the plan

– the fact that brokers keep chipping away at my self-esteem and self-confidence is all part of the plan. Viz:

ME: My husband and I …
BROKER: No. No! You’re a BABY!

ME: I’m not sure this is quite right for us.
BROKER 2: Well, what is it you want, anyway? How many apartments have you seen? Shouldn’t you know by now? Shouldn’t you just commit?

ME, DIFFERENT APARTMENT: I’m not sure this is what we’re looking for.
BROKER 2: (Shouts in Hebrew on her cell phone for a long time)

ME: I’d like an application, please.
BROKER 3: Mm, sorry. I really don’t like giving wives applications without their husbands present.

ME: Well, for $2000, we’d like a large one-bedroom in a building with laundry and an elevator.
BROKER 4: You’ll never find it.

– the fact that Mr. Ben doesn’t know what he wants to / will be able to do once he leaves his clerkship in September is all part of the plan

– the fact that I keep applying fruitlessly to the sprinkling of available jobs is all part of the plan

– the fact that my father is sick and spends his days calculating the value of his library is all part of the plan

That would have to be one serious plan, that’s for sure. And it could be. I just wish I had the faith.

Best Christmas Ever

It’s a very simple recipe. Combine:

1 hotel room in a grand, atmospheric hotel,
1 TV with cable
1 jacuzzi
1 hot lava massage
3 fancy meals
1 accommodating shuttle driver
1 deserted, charming town at the end of the world
2 beaches
1 “Seal hike” through the woods for an hour to a clearing from which you could see actual seals lazing around like paunchy middle-aged men on the rocks, plus an hour trek back
2 fireplaces
1 chess game
1 sex partner
0 family members
1 bottle of Klonopin.

Let sit, and serve.

This was all as necessary and as it was restorative, since I hadn’t been feeling like myself since that small but vital part of my brain broke on Election Night. The new apple of my eye, Dr. Russian, first prescribed me a medicine that, in the long run, will have me running marathons and presidential campaigns simultaneously, but in the short run left me under house arrest. Like Madoff! Perhaps the nausea and constant panic I was experiencing were actually *his* and he spent some of his $50 billion transferring them to me. Since he doesn’t know me personally, I can only imagine he chose me because he figured the Jews hadn’t yet suffered enough.

Regardless, after one really bad day where I made it into work only to collapse and have to be taken home in a cab by coworkers, Dr. Russian, with an acknowledgment that I “seem to be very sensitive to medication,” cut my dosage and later prescribed an ameliorative second pill to be taken with the first. Glory of glories, hosannah, praise the flying spaghetti monster — I felt new again. And by “new,” I only mean “normal.” Well enough to enjoy the misty, desolate splendors of off-season Long Island, well enough to go to bed later than 9:00, and well enough to be back at work today.

Yeehaw! Now onto New Years, and the new year, in which hopefully I will again and consistently be the master of my own brain.

this is happening right now

Scene: Ester sits in bed, agreeably pantsless, browsing the internets. Mr. Ben, in his bright orange Ukrainian revolution t-shirt and pajama bottoms, paces and mutters, which is how he studies for the Bar.

All of a sudden, Mr. Ben stops and turns to Ester, a huge grin splitting his face. “I got it!” he cries.

Ester stares at him.

“It’s a mnemonic. A great one!”

Ester, dumbfounded. He points a finger straight at her chest and announces, “DUSTPELTS!”

Nothing happens. Apparently this isn’t a Harry Potter spell. But Mr. Ben looks very pleased with himself. “Wills, baby. It’s all about wills.”

Some minutes later, after Ester has stopped laughing, he begs, “Can I please tell you what it stands for?”