Do you like your job? Do you love your job? Ask a fireman. The answer will always be a resounding “Yes”. But even those of us that do love our jobs (I include myself in that category) have moments, or days of less than love. Things go wrong, we get frustrated by one thing or another, and find ourselves wishing for the future moment when it will be over. Not over in such a final way, but the seemingly innocuous thought pattern of “Geez, once Friday is done and ______is finished, I can finally relax”. Or, “I’m so excited for _______, I can’t wait for it to get here”, leaving us to wish away the days separating us from that thing we so eagerly anticipate. It seems harmless at first, but what happens when you realize one day that you’ve breezed by weeks, months, or even years living only for the highlights?

This week was quite the week for Single Girl, if I do say so myself. I had a couple of meetings with potential SGC future partners, did my usual drop, had lunch and spent an afternoon at the firehouse, and made 130 cookies and about 75 cupcakes. Come again? No, that’s not a typo, you read me correctly 🙂

I will have to gloss over the meetings, only because nothing is official yet, but there are lots of exciting possibilities that were discussed this week. Which got me thinking about farmers markets and such for the summer. I think something like a pop-up Queens Market or the like would be the perfect vehicle for Single Girl Cookies, and I’ve been told that people would buy a cookies or two if it were available. Then imagine the reach I could have! And, brilliant idea by Kate Forster, I’d make people tell me one joy before I let them have their cookie. There’s definitely something to this idea….If anyone has knowledge on what I need to do to obtain the proper licenses and such to do this, I’d love to hear from you, summer is coming soon!

Thursday, Drop Day, took me to Engine 263 Ladder 117 of the FDNY on Astoria Blvd South.


I must have come at a good time because I got to chat with about 8 or 9 guys. I told them all about Single Girl, went through the whole bit and they just got it. Which is more a testament to them and the nature of their understanding than my explaining. One guy even started to ask what the catch was, and the other guys interrupted him with “There isn’t any, it’s just for kindness, bro.” YES! They loved me (really, they loved the cookies, but I’d like to think they liked me too) so much, they asked me to stay for dinner. Someone even suggested “Hey! That’s what we do with the plate! We’ll fill it up with food for her to take home, let’s make her dinner!” That’s what I mean by “getting it”. I was asked what my favorite food was, “If it was your birthday and your mom said she would make anything you wanted, what would you asked for?” to which I replied I like steak, anything fried, and things with cheese. Classy.

They told me to come back later after my rehearsal and we’d have dinner. Sadly, they got a call, so when I came back that night, they were eating Chinese (which they offered me, btw. Firemen are generous guys) and told me they weren’t able to make me dinner but I could come back anytime I wanted. So I made a lunch date for Sunday to have some firehouse food and get my picture. What picture? Oh, you know, the second in my series of Single Girl Cookies with Firemen. You’ll see.

Meanwhile, I-Renee was freaking out because the day before, my school, TBMS, had called me up and asked if I would be able to make some goodies for the reception of their Black Tie Voice Recital on Friday, which I was also participating in. I, of course, was thrilled and jumped at the chance to spread the word beyond my usual reach, and share more of myself with my students and their parents. As it turns out, making that many of various things (cookies, cupcakes, etc) isn’t all that hard or unmanageable, just time consuming. I decided to go with a strawberry, blackberry, lemon, and vanilla. The lemon is one of my favorites and quickly becoming a staple in my repertoire. The vanilla I wanted to offer as an option for those that may enjoy the simple side of cupcakes.


The blackberry I had done before and just think it looks pretty


But the real winner of the night was my strawberry cupcake with strawberry cream cheese icing. Something about the fresh berries in the batter gave it a light fluffiness that was just enough real strawberry to be refreshing while still satisfying a sweet tooth craving. And I think these are real purdy too 🙂


Everyone did an excellent job during the recital, I was so proud of my students and their performances. The staff at Turtle Bay also did a very nice job at arranging and displaying my SGC creations and helped me spread my message of kindness and love!

IMG_2738 IMG_2735

Finally Sunday rolled around and I biked up to the firehouse for lunch. They said they had been expecting me and were just getting back from a call. Once everyone was back and the trucks were in, we went back to the kitchen where they served me up truly delicious pasta salad with grilled chicken and we got to talking.

This group of men was mostly different from the ones I met on Thursday but the inclusion and welcome feeling the same. They seemed to really enjoy answering my questions about how a firehouse runs, the difference between a engine and a ladder (I had no idea) the rigorous training that goes into becoming a fireman, and everything in between. Did you know that Tony Bennet used to come in and practice on the third floor of the firehouse? There used to be a piano up there and he’d come in and belt out a few tunes back when he was Anthony Benedetto. When talking the these guys, what comes through more than anything was a sense of pride and love for what they do. Some of them got into because they are thrill seekers, some did it because of family history, and some just thought it sounded like a good job and ‘why not?’. Which seems crazy to me, because you’re running into burning buildings, or prying people out of cars on the highway, or any number of insane scenarios, but ‘why not?’. I, for one, an thankful for whichever decision and choice brought them to that part of their life path; their job is to keep us safe or rescue us when we’re not. And nobody goes through life without help.

I told them about my quest to get another picture with them holding me up like the last house, and out came a flood of other suggestions! Like, how about you go up in the bucket?


And here, put this hat on. And wait! Hold an ax while you’re up there!


Who was I to say no? 😉

I also got the picture I was hoping for too.


As I prepared to leave, I handed out my business card with my contact info to Rob who says he’s going to get in touch with me when they have homemade zeppole night. Every guy has a specific task in making them, so that when they’re finished, everyone’s had a part in making them. He said I could come and help – I cannot wait for that. I was also handed down the official word that next week’s drop is to be at Engine 262 over on 21st Street. I believe that is the third and last firehouse left to visit in Astoria, so if anybody has any firehouse secrets they’re dying to have me ask about, let me know and I’ll ask!

Biking home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the conversations we had. About why they do it, how they feel about the horrific things they see, what motivates them to continue on this path. The answer to that was as long as I I know I do the best I can to help and save, then there’s nothing more I can do, and I feel good about that. It occurred to me that they probably get the most out of their lives than anyone else; they see daily how quickly it can all end, and without warning. Which made me think about my own. This weekend I had a lot to do, all things I loved, but lots going on where more than once, I thought, “Ok, once Friday is over, then it’s smooth sailing”. But then on Saturday it was, “Ok, so Sunday is the marker for me to be able to breathe and relax.” So when’s the stopping point to that? “Once summer comes, then it’ll be fun.” “I’m counting down the day to August for my vacation” Then what? Christmas? Pretty soon the whole year is gone and we haven’t lived, really lived but a fraction of it. How do you know the good if you don’t experience the bad? Living for the highlights in life makes them less sweet and less meaningful. But finding the good in the everyday and being present and celebrating the everyday is what makes a life worth living.

Celebrate. For life is short but sweet for certain.


Copyright 2013, Renee Heitmann


One comment

  1. J-La · April 30, 2013

    the 117 is our favorite truck. Josie has been in it and although she appreciates ALL firefighters she only waves at the 117 when she sees them on the block. I grew up around the corner from engine 5 in Manhattan, and only once got to eat food they made when they had a sidewalk BBQ. You sure are one lucky single girl.

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