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 you should make it a double buddy.

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 add 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?”




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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.





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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 vessels 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 activate 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 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.



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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.


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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.



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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.


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The Writer’s Peanut Gallery

images-1 A peanut gallery, according to Webster, is a group of people who criticize someone, often by focusing on insignificant details. In other words, a pack of miserable fuckers who never learned, if you can’t say something nice, then shut the fuck up.

You didn’t have to attend boarding school to get that one.

A friend of mine, who I’m happy to report has resumed writing, was down for the count because a bunch of idiotic naysayers after reading her blog, criticized something personal she bravely shared.

First let me say, candor is one of the hardest parts of writing. The fact that an author can spill their guts on the page is cause for awe and celebration. This woman leads the charge with her honesty that humbles someone like me who still struggles with openness.

She was hurt, as anyone would be, but here’s the rub.

It doesn’t matter what anyone says. The important thing is the love of writing, and my friend thrives on it, and it shows, in her frankness and unfailing humor.

We are both big David Sedaris fans, and to our bewilderment, many people don’t cotton too well to his prose.

He’s the only man in person or print, who has ever made me laugh on the New York subway.

There are people who actually hate Hemingway and Stephen King, Jane Austen and Dashiell Hammett, and even Aaron Sorkin and Anne Lamott.

I have one luscious phrase for all those seated so smugly in that pitiful peanut gallery…

Fuck-off…especially if you can’t take a joke.


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Heartlessness of Doctors

2862211384_e5bb0bdc43 Should I go into medicine, or be an assassin? So not to disappoint my parents I chose the former. My mother said I could be another Doctor Kildare. I mean, how could I say no.

This big ear is to let you know my humor is still intact, and yes, I’m off on a tangent after one more delightful experience with still another tactless doctor. I’m amazed they sleep at night after mangling your hope with a verbal machete.

My left ear is way down. A friend suggested New York Eye and Ear Hospital since they are rated so highly. Off I went to be first in line at 7:30 A.M.

Seems 23 others had the same idea, but hey, I could have been 25.

After a barrage of bureaucratic bullshit, I’m told by a charmless woman they don’t take my insurance. “You’d be better off on Obamcare,” she said, screeching through the window.

“Ya think?” I’m not so sure.

They send me upstairs to the private doctors wing who are still affiliated with the hospital. I get a nice woman who says, “Doncha worra huna, I’ll help ya.”

Did I mention I was crying?

She decides to send me to their other office 30 blocks away where if needed, they can give me a steroid shot. Getting a shot with a needle the length of a shoelace is one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced, six times I might add…but I still go.

I rush only to have a young girl say, “I don’t know what you’re taking about.”

Three hours later (did I mention I was crying), I have my 17th hearing test. Personally, I think they’re a waste of time unless it’s at the onset of hearing loss. When you’re perched in that little booth and you know you’re not hearing those beeps or words...say papaya...say hinge…say fuck you pal and every word in your irritating lexicon, your spirit is lower than your hearing.

Finally I get to see Dr. Whim, I’ll call her.

Tip-off number one, she doesn’t even introduce herself shuffling my records that by now  are the width of War and Peace never looking up.

I’m following like a puppy hoping to get adopted. We finally come to a cell-like office where we both sit.

“After looking at your history, I think a shot won’t help, nor will steroids anymore.”

“What does that mean?”

“Your hearing will just eventually go on both sides.”

My next question should have been, are you a professional fortune-teller, or only work in-house?

Hearing loss is a mystery to the medical profession since they can never give any definitive answers. After two years, nine doctors and now, 17 hearing tests, they just don’t know.

The good news is, neither do you.

To expound on that, we don’t know what’s coming in the next 10 minutes, so to say, nothing will help is a mighty arrogant statement.

Last year a friend of mine called from an emergency room after rushing his roommate there who had severe stomach pains.

He made too much money for Obamacare, so up till then, it was cheaper to just pay out-of-pocket than be insured. He refuses the procedure they recommend and goes home.

My friend is fraught with worry.

Fast forward three weeks. The guy is killed in a car accident.

My point, don’t tell me you know an outcome when you haven’t even properly said hello. Don’t claim you can predict the future unless you come with a crystal ball.


I left and put myself on a short term dose of Prednisone hoping it will coax leftie back up.

My last round of steroids was a year ago, so I tell myself, no change in a whole year is pretty good and furthermore…

Dr. Whim can go fuck herself, which is probably just what the doctor ordered.

displaying a complete lack of feeling or consideration.

Who are these people?



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You know why I’m thin?

I work at it, that’s why. I watch what I eat.

I’m not slender because I’m lucky or have good genes, it’s because watching my weight is a  conscious choice I’ve made my entire life.

What brought this on?

Fat Marilyn, that’s who.

Who said, that’s so mean?

No, descriptive.

Whenever I see her she comments on my weight. It goes something like this:

“Susannah, hi; omigod, look at you, don’t you eat? You’re like a 12 year-old boy, or a ruler. How do you still have no hips? Want some of mine? ha ha – Have you tried the new scone at Starbucks? How bout this weather huh?”

She’s the queen of non sequiturs all said in one long breathless litany. I try being nice, but I’ll admit, run when I see her coming. One time, to avoid her, I even hid behind a pillar at the post office.

The constant commentary is wearing since there’s no hidden agenda on my part.

I eat cookies in bed too, just not 365 days a year and I exercise no matter what. Take this morning for instance, due to a very long, stressful day, I’m extremely tired and too much so to run, so I walked instead. Was it my best hour in the park? No, but I still went.

What do we call this?

Vigilance, which means, the action or state of keeping careful watch for possible dangers or difficulties. In this case, an expanding waistline.

Please don’t mistake this for boasting. I’m merely explaining why I manage to keep my weight down.

I really watch my carbs and sugar; that’s not to say I never have them, but I do look for signs of mindless eating especially if I’m unusually stressed, tired, or heartbroken. This is when the cookies come out and like everyone, could go through the whole bag, but the difference is I don’t.

Okay, occasionally yes, I do, but it’s not all the time. Camille and I once had a contest to see who could eat the most Oreos in fifteen minutes…guess who won?

Marilyn however, eats constantly. I know this after being in her company on more than one occasion while she comments on everyone’s weight who’s present. One could say she’s pound for pound possessed.

Here are my personal habits:

As the day goes on I eat less. Breakfast and lunch are my main meals and dinner is light. If I’m going out it’s always fish and a vegetable.

It’s a myth when people say there was nothing wholesome for them to eat and this includes at a sit-down dinner party. You eat the greens that are always served since they make the table look nice and festive. And if you’re worried about being hungry eat before you go.

I learned this from Mammy in Gone With The Wind when she made Scarlett have a snack before the Twelve Oaks Ball.

All I know is, I don’t ever want to look in the mirror and be appalled at what I see. Things are tough enough without wearing a muumuu.

And no, this had nothing to do with being a model for so long. A good self-image is worth fighting for, it doesn’t matter what you do.

That said, it happens to be time for lunch.

See, I eat.


Posted in Beauty, food, Health, humor, New York City, women | Tagged , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Howdy Neighbor

A family moved across the hall from me. It came as a surprise since I thought there was just one woman. Turns out there are four of them stuffed into this tiny apartment including a seven year-old boy.

I met him in the foyer holding the door open. Naturally I asked what he was doing for security purposes…the building’s as well as his.

“I’m waiting for my mother who told me to wait here.”

“Where is she?” He was so young, I felt the need to ask.

“She’s parking the car.” I decided she must have thought he’d be safe in the doorway even though I didn’t approve. This is New York after all so leaving your kids even for a few minutes isn’t such a great idea.

I stalled so not to leave him alone…looking at my mail, rummaging through my purse. Finally I said, “You know, I don’t want to leave you by yourself, so if it’s okay I’ll wait with you.”

“I’m okay,” he said, pulling a stuffed alligator out of his backpack. “I have Danny, he’ll protect me.”

I was really at a loss…what do you say to that?

“Okay Danny, you’re in charge. If you need anything, ring number 8.”

“Copy that.” I had to smile at the voice change. Kids…they’re always good for a laugh.

I then left against my better judgment.

The following day who do I see come bounding down the stairs with a woman but this kid. “Hi,” I said, more than a little surprised. “Remember, we met yesterday in the doorway.”

“I live here,” the kid said, pointing to the apartment down the hall…this is my ooma.” His granny, an old Asian woman smiled, but clearly spoke no English.

“Well, I’m your neighbor across the hall…Susannah. How do you do?”

“Good,” he said, before scurrying away.

“How’s Danny?” I called out.


Funny how I know the alligator’s name, but not his.

Something tells me this is the beginning of a strange but beautiful friendship.



Posted in Family, friendship, humor, kids, New York City, parents | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments