nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic


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The tyranny of Invisalign

I had British teeth, all a bit crooked and crowded. When you live in New York City, you are surrounded by straight, white, beautiful teeth because practically every kid here wore braces and ended up with great teeth. I have been obsessively looking at everyone’s teeth since we’ve been here. Just over a year ago, I caved into the pressure (perceived by me) and spent a fortune on this crazy treatment called Invisalign.

Invisalign is a teeth straightening treatment. You wear plastic aligners over your teeth, made from 3D images of your teeth, and every two weeks you change to a new aligner to make a new movement in your teeth and for me that meant getting through 30 sets in just over a year.

I have worn them 22 hours a day, every day; taking them out only to eat or drink. I have made cups of tea before my meal in order for them to be cool enough to drink a the end of my meal to reduce the time the aligner is not in my mouth. I have been in great pain when I had a new aligner, because the pressure is so great on my teeth.

I had vile lumps of cement put on to 17 of my teeth which were coyly called buttons by the orthodontist to fool me into getting them put on. Apparently these were to help the aligner, but I never quite understood that.They were the worst part of it as they were so ugly and so rough in my mouth, they made eating much harder all round.

I even had to wear elastic bands that went from my top aligner to my bottom teeth, secured by a metal bolt on my molar, to adjust my bite. That was very unattractive, so much so I refused to wear them out and about and hid at home with them in.

I have brushed my teeth on average four times a day, got through miles of dental floss and should have bought shares in the toothpaste manufacturer, because I brushed so much this last year.

And the result? Well, yesterday I went to the orthodontist who removed all the cement, filed my wonky teeth and made me look amazing. Despite all the moaning above, I love my new teeth. They aren’t quite American teeth yet because I haven’t had them whitened and they need a few refinements to sort out the minor bits that need doing. But they are close to it.

Today has been odd. I still wear the last set of aligners at night until my new ones come through in January – for the refinements. So this morning I took them out, brushed them and left them in the cupboard because I don’t need to wear them during the day now. All morning I felt naked, like I was missing them. I seemed to be experiencing a form of dental Stockholm Syndrome, I wanted to go home and put them back in. I have resisted, but I did brush my teeth after lunch because I just can’t help it.

I won’t share a picture, I haven’t come that far from my British roots, but maybe I should change my name from nyc-newbie  to ‘previously British teeth’ instead.

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And there’s another one

I’m referring to odd men. Back in the summer there was ‘creepy guy’ who got offended when I told him it wasn’t quite right for him to be hanging around a kid’s park with no kid. Today’s oddity was a bearded man wearing a sign around his neck proclaiming something about Jesus and sins who was hanging around our street. He decided that it would be absolutely fine to approach J and offer him what looked like a coloured stone. When I said ‘you shouldn’t give things to small children’, he just pushed it further at J’s hands, and J was of course fascinated by this and would have willingly taken it had I not pulled him away. The odd man then decides to follow us down the street, while I walk faster and hope the light’s in my favour so that I can cross the road and not stop. I look back and he’s gone.

After picking E up from school, he’s there again. This time dancing around on the street, sign flapping wildly. I hurry us all on and cross the road, trying to explain to a perplexed E why a man is dancing in the street with a sign around his neck. That’s a hard one.

But on the other hand, my good British friend G was telling me just the other day about a man outside Whole Foods on 14th Street, I think, who was dressed just in his underpants, dancing, with a sign saying something about making people smile. Which it did. What an odd world.


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Santas everywhere

It has been very surreal in New York today. The subways and streets are filled with people dressed as Santa. Some have just donned a hat, others have added a beard and full fur trimmed outfit. There have been some liberal interpretations of what a Mrs Claus might look like and quite frankly if many of these wanna be female Santas were working in the North Pole for real, they would freeze to death!

Santas crossing Madision Avenue.

Santas crossing Madision Avenue.

And the reason for all this merriment? Well today is New York’s annual Santacon. This is basically a pub crawl through Midtown Manhattan in fancy dress. It’s funny how seeing them on the subway on the way out for lunch in Korea Town it seemed quite odd but by the time you’ve seen a hundred of them, it all seems quite normal.

My favourite Santa was hanging out on the platform at 59th Street. He/She was wearing an outfit that showed Santa’s muscles, bare arms, bare torso and bare legs, just wearing Santa red shorts. Coupled with white wig, beard and glasses, the only hint it might have been a girl under it all was the purple nails, but even then I couldn’t be sure. Kind of like a Marvel style Santa, with special powers to visit every house in the world in one night. Maybe.  Such a shame I didn’t get a photo to share here.

Ho ho ho.


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The six foot sandwich?

And just before I go to bed, here’s a sign from this evening’s outing that made me stop dead in the street and read twice. A six foot sandwich? Nope. A foot long sandwich that is six dollars. I was so bothered about the fact that it was six foot long that I didn’t even realise until just now that a foot long sandwich is pretty barking too. That’s one way to notice a Blimpie on the way home.

photo 2


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Wailing on Wall Street

This is what I was doing earlier tonight as I got out of the subway at Wall Street. In the dark it’s very hard to read street signs and there’s no logic to the street layout down town – the logic of the grid system is far north from here. I was squinting like a very old lady and looking as bemused. In a bid to not get mugged, I huddled to look at my phone and work out where I was but that was hopeless too as it was too hard to see such small print. I am getting very old, I must update my contact lenses.

I then stumbled across the New York Stock Exchange building which looked amazing all lit up at night.

photo 1

So I have decided that the episode of Sex in the City where Carrie gets on the subway because there are no cabs and where she emerges at Wall Street station (not sure which line, but let’s say it’s the 4 5 line) is completely unrealistic. I don’t see how she could have oriented herself and got herself the the Stock Exchange Building to ring the bell in rush hour in her enormous Laboutin or Blahnik heels. No way. I was wearing fur lined Camper boots and I had no idea.

It’s so cold again, that being on the street that marks the original wall of Manhattan where in the 1660s New Amsterdam originally ended, just reminds me of Game of Thrones. But that’s another terrible TV reference that R says I should stop doing. But I can’t; it makes me laugh. Better than wailing.


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3 hours to sunshine

Yes, that’s how long it takes to get to the Caribbean from New York. Great, isn’t it? And how do I know? Because we just went there from JFK airport direct to the Turks and Caicos Islands. Talk about a contrast: from the brutal, grey and cold city to the laid back, white sandy beaches, turquoise ocean and clear blue sky. It’s all a bit indulgent, really. We only went for 4 days and as this isn’t a travel blog, I won’t bore you about the lovely apartment, the heat, the sand…

But the point I really wanted to make was about proximity. In the UK you might head off to Spain, Italy or some other Mediterranean destination and take about the same time to get there. The Caribbean is a long haul flight away and an expensive one at that. So think of a trip to the Caribbean from the US as the equivalent of a trip from London to one of the Mediterranean countries. Great thing about much of the Caribbean is that the national language is English and for us in the Turks and Caicos Islands, the currency is the US Dollar, so no currency conversion horrors. And even better it’s on Eastern Time, so no jet lag and no time zone changes to mess about with J’s sleep patterns! All in all, a fabulous way to escape New York’s grim winter.

If I didn’t have the pictures, I probably would think it was all a dream.