In Gratitude

imagesThere’s a popular 12 step slogan…change your attitude with a little gratitude.

Yes, I know…it sounds more like a bumper sticker, or a mug or dish towel you’d find in a  church gift shop.

But the truth is, it can really whirl your world around like nobody’s business.

It’s Thanksgiving, so traditionally this is our annual day of appreciation along with permission to stuff ourselves to the gills.

No turkey is safe as we hunt them down to acknowledge our blessings. Wish some of the men I’ve known were included in this pursuit…that said.

Despite my array of problems, I am very, very grateful for so many things.

To be able to write this for one. Having something I love to do as much as writing is my biggest blessing to date. All the mornings I wake up in tears there’s the page that awaits like a friend extending her hand.

I have a home that’s warm and totally mine with treasures stacked in every corner…things I love like books and trinkets, a colored photograph of Paul and Linda oh so young, gracing one wall.

I knew Linda McCartney because of all the animal advocacy she did. When I look at her eyes the color of twilight, she reminds me to always step up for the fateful four-legged.

Reminds me to have gratitude for who I am…a conscious soul who doesn’t turn away, who can feel the plight of others through her thin skin.

I think of my friends, though fewer than before, who stalwartly stand by as I fumble and stumble, my ears behaving like rodeo clowns….Amy, Bill, Chris, Ed, Evelyn, L, Pam, despite how alone it feels, I know they bob closely, like buoys in the water.

Mustn’t forget Carmela who for all these months has been my very best friend…wagging her tail when she sees me…giving me kisses to take home.

Thanksgiving is more a day of reckoning than jello-shots of Pepto Bismal, so I will linger in that thought as the day makes her gracious way.

SB

 

 

Posted in animals, Books, Faith, food, Gratitude, Health, Home, humor, Love, New York City, writing | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

The Doormen In My Life

DSC01366The downside of living alone is when you need something that requires the help of another. What’s a thin girl to do when an art director at 8 in the morning wants a photo of her in a cocktail dress for an up and coming job?

There you are still in your robe rifling through your closet for that Versace you realized went into the Good Will bag. I’m never wearing chartreuse sequins again…who am I kidding?

Never say never, said the god of recycled fashion.

I finally find a three quarter length jacket with a festive Japanese print I throw over tights and a very short LBD (little black dress), adorning my neck with a Hermes scarf sadly sporting spaghetti sauce stains.

OOPS

Now of course I have to recharge my camera and find someone to take this picture looking like I just got home from an all night orgy…but one with an Italian buffet.

WHO, PRAY TELL IS AROUND FOR THIS TASK?

The doorman at 11 East 80th, that’s who.

Now please remember it’s 23 degrees as I go galloping downstairs, heels in hand, to dash around the corner to make my request not knowing who I’ll find.

Will it be Paco the mean one, or Eddie who already thinks I’m crazy.

I run into the building and say breathlessly to the doorman of my dreams, “This is an emergency…I need you to PLEASE take my picture for a job I need desperately. Will you do that for me?”

This is when you fall in love with a little guy in gray with a black synthetic braid woven across his cap. He smiles as he takes the camera while you slip into your stilettos that have now made you rival The Chrysler Building.

He examines your little instamatic like a pro who works at Best Buy, setting it to the light of the foyer.

“It’s too dark,” he says, causing my heart to pound. I need this job…I need this photo….NOW, since some anal woman named Patricia, but oh call me Pat, is waiting at her desk consuming lox on a bagel along with her 7th nonfat/skim cappuccino.

He motions to go outside.

Like a short Richard Avedon with a swarthy complexion, he puts me up against a white wall in the first shards of morning sun while a lady, waiting for a parking spot, looks on.

‘Ya look bea-u-tiful,” she says from the warmth of her Mazda.

“Anything for a job,” I say, wishing she’d let me crawl in the back.

Meanwhile my photographer is on his knee making sure he gets all of me while I turn and twist like we’re bonding in Barbados.

I notice two strollers waiting by the front door to be helped in. He jumps up…does his job, then returns on bended knee.

I say, “More body, less face,” after seeing the 3 he shot since with the exception of a smear of red lipstick, my face looks like a killing field.

“Back, back,” I said…and sure enough after 11 tries I get a shot I can live with, running upstairs to download hired by Patricia, but call me Pat, before you could say…

what would I do without the doormen in my life.

Thanks Mohammed.

I owe you one…or two or three.

SB

Posted in Beauty, comedy, Fashion, humor, modeling, New York City, Women and men | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

JFK Junior The Good Son

518iP18ZlSL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ I just finished a poignant biography by Christopher Anderson about JFK Jr. and the mother he loved, to quote its cover.

I picked it up hesitantly figuring, I’ve read it all before, but after reading the prologue that recaps John’s last fatal moments, I was hooked. Hey, I’m only human.

Two things struck me…one, that he had no idea the Piper Saratoga he was flying had two buttons to activate that would have automatically flown him safely from New Jersey to Massachusetts. Once there, it would have even executed a perfect three-point landing at Martha’s Vineyard Airport.

The definition of hubris is…excessive pride or self-confidence.

If he had taken the time to learn about his new plane, we’d still have him and two others basking in the pre-winter sunlight.

The other fact that struck me was how young Jackie Kennedy was when she died….just 64. I too, like many others, see her only as the first lady in 1963 standing so stoically draped in black at 34 years-old beside her children and fallen husband.

Her Onassis years mean little to me.

Anderson in the book misses nothing. Despite its poignancy, he as any author wanting to sell books, adds the sensationalism we all clearly crave.

Her expenditures on shoes…60.000 dollars for 200 pair at one point….how she sold her designer clothes at resale shops. Ari’s admittance at making a terrible mistake.

Ted Kennedy negotiating a crude settlement with Christina Onassis in the backseat of a limousine at her father’s funeral causing her to jump from the car to join her aunts in the one following behind.

Sad faces at her home at 1040 Fifth, as Jackie laid in her coffin, while an old-fashioned Irish wake took place…Caroline crestfallen on the couch…John holding court.

People wondered how someone so fit who jogged every day could possibly die that young.  We forget the trauma in Dallas, how she smoked at least two packs of cigarettes a day her whole adult life. She got what then were referred to as vitamin shots to keep her going during her White House years we now now were lethal doses of amphetamine. She starved herself to stay thin turning a blind eye to her husband’s chronic philandering that, I don’t care what any French woman says, chips the spirit bone dry.

For all her lionization, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis paid a price.

It bothered me reading John could have been buried at Arlington National Cemetery next to his parents if his mother-in-law didn’t so object, her daughter not earning the same privilege. For the sake of history despite her grief, she should have realized there was more here than her own personal loss. That may sound harsh, but for me history reigns.

But what I really took with me as I rounded the pages was what a great mom Jackie was, and if John had lived, would have been probably one of the greatest, natural statesmen of our time. More than his dad or his Uncle Bobby…simply because he inherited all that was good and fine from everyone who ever touched his short life.

If only he had taken pause on that fateful day, he’d still be among us.

He would have been 54 years-old today.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. (November 25, 1960 – July 16, 1999)

The Good Son….Christopher Anderson highly recommended by anyone interested in the Kennedy legacy.

SB

Posted in Books, Family, History, kids, Love, parents, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Puttin On The Dog

untitled+headerimages-2 images-1 One can’t help but be amused at the coats and jackets people put their dogs in.

The dogs themselves tell the whole story.

Some of them, distinctly, like being dressed drag-like, despite how silly they may look. Others are so embarrassed they can’t even look you in the eye.

Take Mr. Kato, the rottweiler for instance. He refuses to wear his black, gabardine coat that makes him look like the Phantom of the Opera. He spends his entire walk taking it off. His owner, finally, respected his wishes, but it took time for him to realize, dogs clearly want their sartorial say.

This morning tooling round Harlem Hill, I saw a French Bull Dog in what looked like a Massoni car coat complete with pockets and turned-up collar, like he was about to stroll down the Champs-Elysees.

His owner, in a little, light jacket, didn’t look remotely as warm.

I ambled over.

“Your doggie is very chic in his coat.”

The man, startled, just stared for a moment. I guess he wasn’t used to some white girl chattin-em up at 7 on a Sunday morning.

“Well, you know there’s a story to her coat…it belonged to a little guy named Gunther who hated it…would attack it whenever it was layin around…my neighbor had spent a lotta money on it from the Sears Catolog. Marlene here, on the other hand, would cuddle up to it whenever she saw it, so it became hers.”

I did not make this up.

On cue, Marlene gave me a look as if to say, Hey, I’m no dummy. It’s cute, it’s warm. Gunther’s an idiot…but what do you expect from a fat, little hot dog.

Yes, Gunther turned out to be a dachshund with a bit of a waist issue, according to Marlene’s father who said, “You can’t feed long dogs too much since they turn into logs right ba-fore your eyes.” I immediately thought of Carmela who’s been looking rather portly round the  middle.

I then met a pit called Wally with a bright red sweater he seemed to like. His friend, Cuddles, wearing a stained pink one didn’t appear as happy. Can you blame her? Could we throw that soiled wrap in a a little Clorox please? A girl has her pride you know.

If I had a dog, what would I do…dress him to the nines or let him just be a dog, the fur nature gave him presumably enough.

Who am I kidding…not only would he have his own closet, he’d have a personal charge at Macys happily accruing points to buy that matching hat.

WOOF

SB

Posted in animals, Fashion, humor, Love, New York City, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

Notes From The Carlyle – November 2014

images-2 After finding 20 bucks in a raincoat pocket, and it was a Burberry after all, I strolled down to my favorite watering hole happy to come home to mama.

The great thing about Bemelmans is, it doesn’t change. Time seems to stop as you enter its magical world.

Like in a Bogart movie, the bartender was drying glasses while a couple snuggled at the far end. He smiled as I entered, as if he knew me though we’d never met. It’s been months since I’ve been so there’s been a changing of the guard.

“Hello young lady,” he said, giving me a half smile. Young lady…I knew we’d bond for life.

I was all set to sit at a table then decided to warm a stool instead.

“Merlot please,” I said, that 20 twitching in my pocket. I hadn’t had a great glass of wine in a while, not since the last time I was there with my friend Steve who took my picture, as a gift, for my last eBook. Now that was a strange day since he brought his wife along to assist. She assisted alright. She did everything, including order our wine sharing one glass between them. Made me so uncomfortable. I know it’s pricy and Steve was treating, but it’s a 5 star hotel, not a Houlihan’s, so it shouldn’t have been a big surprise. I felt I had to be polite which took me away from the matter at hand, and it showed in the photos. I looked like a paper doll with an enlarged head. He did send me one after it was photoshopped, and shopped and shopped my face a tad embalmed, but of course we all know it’s the thought that counts.

Men and dominating wives give me the creeps. I can hear those balls they’ve confiscated crashing around in their handbags.

But back to the young lady and her new barman.

He gave me a large goblet, the burgundy liquid heating up before my eyes. That’s the thing with good wine, it struts it stuff like a showgirl even before the show begins.

Old habits die hard as I perused the room for blog material. The couple nearest to me were up to no good. Middle-aged, too much girth, and by the looks of things, this was no doubt a tryst on a twistin Thursday afternoon. I watched her giddily grope him beneath the bowels of the bar…preview of coming attractions no doubt.

“I’ll take another Jameson and water,” he called out, his voice a tad high.

I’ll bet, and I’d have two.

I was suddenly envious of their passion soon to explode on an upper floor. I imagined two walruses going at it with natural abandonment amid an open mini bar.

To the rear of me sat a table of women labeled to the hilt. See, I don’t care for my Chanel to show, it’s always nicer if one gets a surprise peek. But this group could have been an ad for Neimans.

What possessed Miuccia Prada to enlarge her letters on her purses embossing them in gold is a mystery to me. Each woman had one glowing like cheap firelight, and God knows, Prada ain’t cheap. They also had designer eye wear perched on their heads so the ivory inlaid would show. Tom Ford? Gucci? Who knows. And the shoes…it amazed me they weren’t lame. I half expected crutches hanging overhead, their initials finely etched in the wood.

And we mustn’t forget the prattle. Even with hearing loss I was privy to the limited conversation. Do women ever realize how boring they are when all they can talk about are carbohydrates, clothes and men who don’t want them?

How about, are you reading anything Betty? And Sue, tell me about that trip to Rome and and Venice. Are there really that many stray cats in the Colosseum? Did you imagine Anna Magnani passionately going to feed them every day?

A girl can dream, right?

They were all drinking sours…so apt…whiskey, scotch, rum. I laughed when one lady said, “You’d think at a place like this they’d have those little umbrellas.”

She thought she was at a singles weekend at a Club Med in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Oh, do I miss Bemelmans. I haven’t been able to be this catty in much too long.

And right when I was all set to go, enjoying that last sip of my Burberry Merlot, my new barman strolled over and said, “How bout a glass on me young lady?”

OOH

SB

 

Posted in Books, comedy, Fashion, humor, money, New York City, travel, Women and men, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

And Then There Was Light

images After a week and a very long day, my hearing in my left ear went up proving once again the vagaries of Prednisone.

It hasn’t risen to its full height, the little warrior, but it’s made a grand attempt to stand on shaky legs like a wounded soldier hoisting the American flag.

Yesterday was one of the worst days ever. There was still no change, and in the past the steroid would kick in almost immediately, so my hope was all but gone.

I cried so much my eyes took on the shape of pins glazing over in their misery.

I had nothing to show for all these sick, side effects sidling up like unwanted house guests.

Insomnia, lack of appetite, pains in my legs and feet along with dizziness and swelling. I have a rash from God knows what since steroids sit on your immune system like sumo wrestlers. If I had a result, then I’d welcome these things as part of the deal, though a bad one, to regain my sense I can’t believe for over a half century, took for granted.

My friend, who’s a priest, was giving mass so I made myself go. I got there early wrapped in hopelessness along with 16 layers praying for at least a shift in peace.

That’s what I’ve learned to pray for…not wellness, but for the acceptance of however I’m feeling that day. God, with his busy schedule who tends not to get back to you right away, seems to have time to provide at least that much in a pinch.

Seeing my friend who’s such a light…younger and determined to make a difference, smiled and said hello to me in sign language.

It makes us both laugh since I tell him he makes me feel like Lamb Chop.

I did feel better when I went home settling in for the night, forgiving my body for just not being able to rise to the occasion.

The first thing I do when I open my eyes is check the voice-mail on my land line to see if I can hear it. Up till today, I could only on the right, the left registering nothing but a monotonous hum.

But then I heard my voice, though distant, say my name reeling me into a sitting position.

Reminded me, hope gone silent, might just be returning through a different route to teach you, you must never give up regardless of what seems to be.

We must stoke those fires for the unseen that have yet to make our acquaintance.

Hope springs eternal…eternally.

SB

 

 

 

Posted in Faith, Health, Home, Love | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Looking Out My Window

IMG_0013 I actually can’t see a thing since they’re so dirty they look bulletproof. Marco the window washer hasn’t been here in a while. Last I heard he was serving time for a B&E…breaking and entering…that’ll teach a girl to lock her windows. Wonder if they took away his squeege.

I love my apartment that, short of a moose head and a secret panel taking me to the deli without having to go outside, has everything I need.

How nice they threw in a kitchen I could casually pass on my way to the bathroom.

I’m told my place is charming in its spare, shabby chicness. It has a French garret look with tall glass doors separating its two rooms. Of course it’s only cozy for one and perhaps one other you’re keen on who only visits. There’s just enough elbow room for you and possibly a cat.

I’ve lived here for so long I view its proportions as perfect since my needs are few. My bed, bath and desk are my primary checkpoints since you can usually find me in one or the other.

I love at the end of the day to soak before burrowing in my bed, my books alongside me like a fort of virtue. We also have the goodie drawer in my bedside table stocked with mints, M&Ms and Hershey’s Kisses. A friend gave me a standing pewter lamp with a perfect glow allowing me to read well into the night.

My desk is just a hop, skip and a jump for me to hop online or add to an essay, my totems lined up like noble watchmen. There’s St. Francis holding an armful of birds, a little duck that waddles and quacks…a rock I took from Eleanor Roosevelt’s backyard beside pictures of loved ones, framed in silver, round my faded, quilted Pierre Deux bulletin board. Now that’s an eye opener, what hangs to inspire.

My Audrey calender my friend Joe gave me…so hope he gives me another since I love it so, her style reminding me to kick start my own. Pictures of Carmela and Rosie the cat, my granddad having lunch, Ed in a tux and a mama seal hugging her pup.

Post-its say things like...be gentle with yourselfstay where your feet are and plunk your magic twanger, Froggy.

A new addition is a list of writing tips by Jane Kenyon, a brilliant poet who died at 47 though written years ago, resonates as if penned today.

1) Protect your time

2) Feed your inner life

3) Avoid too much noise

4) Read good books; have good sentences in your ears

5) Be by yourself as often as you can

6) Walk

7) Take the phone off the hook

8) Work regular hours

Jane Kenyon (May 23, 1947 – April 22, 1995)

Looking out my window, whether I can see or not, still opens me up to the world I’ve so, without much conscious thought, lovingly created.

SB

 

Posted in animals, humor, New York City, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 28 Comments

The Winter Of My Discontent

images It’s still not officially winter, but it may as well be.

I’m already layered like I’m sneaking out of a hotel…tights, long johns, 5 ply turtleneck sweaters. If I’m not careful I might tip right over as I’m walking down the street.

I even broke out my agnes b. faux fur hat that usually doesn’t appear before February.

A woman I know sidled up to say, “Since when do you wear fur?”

“Faux fur…since it dropped 30 degrees in a day and a half.”

“How do you know it’s fake…haven’t you been reading the papers? There’s an outbreak of false faux fur that’s real. Go ask PETA.”

“That won’t be necessary…I have firm faith in agnes b. who would never do a thing like that.” Why I had this faith, I really can’t say. Could be because I love my hat so much.

She then waddled off leaving me to ponder what might be on my head.

Years ago, my ex gave me a rabbit hat that felt like bunnies were running across my scull. My faux fur doesn’t do that.

End of story.

I then go to the library whose heating system rivals Miami Beach. Men were in their shirt sleeves while women should have kept theirs on. I hate droopy arms, they make me want to hit the floor and do regulation push-ups till they slip back into their coats.

My arms, though stick-like, don’t sway when I go from the op-eds to obituaries, the two sections of the New York Times I religiously read.

Of course, several of my layers had to come off so I wouldn’t faint. That took 20 minutes.

Winter is just such a pain in the ass and isn’t she here a bit early? I know it’s November and December is pulling up the rear, but shouldn’t there be an upside to Global Warming, like springy temperatures every other day? That’s fair. I could live with that arrangement knowing if I was freezing on Friday, come Sunday I’d be sporting tights and a tight T, socks in my purse only for emergencies.

Instead, I’m swaddled in sweatpants with so much padding I may, for once in my life, have an actual ass.

Excuse me while I get a blanket.

SB

Posted in humor, New York City | Tagged , , , , , | 30 Comments

Entitlement Syndrome

crazy-womanEntitlement means, having a right to something…claim, permission, privilege. Something you take as yours whether it is or not…an arrogant theft is how I see it.

My latest experience has taken this definition to new heights.

I was in Farinella eating overpriced pizza I’ve been boycotting since they raised all slices a dollar, when a woman with two kids approached me.

Let me first describes this little joint on 79th and Lexington Avenue. It’s like an Italian jewel box with a big oven, small counter and rows and rows of Coca-Cola in old-fashioned bottles lining the walls. There are three tiny tables each seating two, and a bench outside. Not exactly spacious, but it’s pizza.

You order, eat and go.

I’m sitting against the wall always willing to give the other seat to someone, but this day, a woman dressed in workout gear with matching children marched over and said, “We three think, she gazes lovingly at the two kids…a boy and girl maybe six and seven…you should get up and give us your table.”

“Come again?”

This threw me a bit though I remained polite.

“I’m having my lunch. When I’m through you can sit here.”

“No, that’s not good enough. We’re in a hurry and we need to sit down so I’ll repeat, the three of us feel you should be a good sport and get up.”

Okay, this was even too much arrogance for the legendary Upper East Side.

“Well, the three of us…as in me, myself and I, feel you are way out of line and would prefer if you’d go away and let us eat in peace.”

It reminded me of an old Hillary Clinton joke…how Bill never liked when she wore skirts because her balls would show.

“That is so selfish since there’s one of you and three of us.”

Yes, this is when the wheels fell off the wagon.

“Were you dropped on your head? Do you know how outrageous you’re being?”

By this time the kids just wanted their pizza that she was holding hostage while harassing me, and one thing about Farinella, as good as it is, it blows when it’s cold.

My heart pounded with indignation. Would you ever make such a demand on anyone, especially someone you didn’t know? Did she deserve a slap more than a slice ya think?

I was so mad I ordered another one just to sit there longer. Of course the kids got to me, so I said to them, “Why don’t you, addressing the mini workout girl, sit with me, and your brother can have the seat in front.” How nice am I?

“The little girl in her Fila spandex hoodie said, “What about mommy?”

“Mommy can stand,” her brother said.

From the mouth of babes…who clearly takes after his father.

SB

 

Posted in Family, humor, kids, money, New York City, parents, women | Tagged , , , , , | 28 Comments

When You Know You’re A New Yorker

images Once again I was lost in Brooklyn in a state of panic late for a job. My work has been spotty to put it nicely, so I can’t afford to piss anybody off by waltzing in like Kate Moss.

It was a section called Fort Green I had never been to before.

I’m always amazed how many people don’t know their neighborhoods. You ask them where a street is and they look drunk at 8 o’clock in the morning.

“I dunno.”

“But you live here…it’s a main street.”

“Yeah, I know…I dunno.”

After asking my seventh person who starts saying I’m going in the wrong direction, I hear a crackly voice behind me.

“No she ain’t…she’s goin right…she just needs to make a left…just in a half hour is all.”

A half hour.

I turn around and there’s man in a ripped Yankees jacket and pajama bottoms with his private parts jangling out like car keys.

There was no time to be appalled…I WAS LATE.

He then points, like an Irish Setter, and says,”Yous goin right, but it’s a laaaang, laaaang ways?”

How is it, a half naked man is the only one who knows where Queen of All Saints Church is, an apparent landmark?

“Tell me again, so I can write it down.”

I started rummaging for a pen.

“I got one,” he says, handing me a Bic that’s been significantly chewed.

In a very competent way he tells me step by step, how to go.

I thank him praying he was right, and by golly, he was.

But what occurred to me later when I had calmed down enough to go over what had happened…how oblivious I truly was to his balls blowing in the breeze.

I was late, that’s all I knew, and his porn-like ensemble made very little difference to me.

I’m a New Yorker alright.

Live and let live, act as if, and get me to the church on time.

SB

Posted in Fashion, humor, modeling, New York City, travel, Women and men | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments