The Mean Reds…Fighting Depression

images-1 I’ve loved this expression ever since reading it in Truman Capote’s classic, Breakfast At Tiffany’s…what he called his version of having the blues.

In the book, Holly Golightly, our famous heroine, goes to Tiffany to chase those blues away. Even the 1961 film starring Audrey Hepburn opens with her tooling by early in the morning looking in the windows for peace and solace (see picture).

We all have different avenues we take when we’re not feeling up to par. I go to the Park or visit Carmela, the basset hound. My mother used to cook.

I knew right away things were not too well when I’d come home from school and find a cake, two pies and a slew of cookies cooling on the counter. She’d have that forlorn look on her face with a highball glass in her hand that by the looks of things, had been refilled quite a few times.

I have several friends who take medication, something I’ve unsuccessfully tried. The first time I went on Prozac for eight months and yes, it took the mean reds away. As a matter of fact, it took everything away. I felt wrapped in cellophane my feelings squished down not even able to cry. I decided numbness wasn’t what I was after. I wanted to feel, but still function, something I work on daily.

Then I tried two others that made me sick finally deciding nature would be my drug of choice.

Sometimes animals are given Prozac to calm them down. I knew a pit named Oscar who was on it his whole adult life after a very perilous puppy-hood. A Beagle named Sam also takes an antidepressant or he can’t even leave the house, poor pup. There’s a French bulldog called Alouette who also takes something or else she moans in her sleep.

Sadness affects us all at one time or another, doesn’t much matter how many legs we have.

Depression has been very much in the news lately, starting with Robin Williams who sadly lost the battle. From someone who intermittently suffers, this still greatly disturbs me. If only he rallied and were still here to talk about it…help others find that side door….but alas, that was not to be.

Whether we combat it making pies, taking meds or strolling by Tiffany eating a Danish  like Holly…we need to fight those mean reds when they appear.

Life, however it comes, is just too precious not to.


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Before The Fall

706175-Baby019I went out this morning wearing a blazer wishing it were a coat wondering, what in hell happened to Indian summer?

It’s not that I’m anxious to be sweltering, arguing with the air-conditioner who wants to be turned on, but it feels odd for September to be November.

To sum it up…I’m fucking freezing.

I’ve always found comfort in the changing of seasons. The heat of July and August forming condensation in the crease of my arms and behind my knees.

The way my hair frizzes and flips in the back like a little kid’s, along with the smell of sunscreen commingling with humidity.

When autumn finally appears it usually knocks first rather than come busting through the front door.

Perhaps now people will see Global Warming is not just a rumor. Of course everyone’s thrilled it hasn’t been hot, but is the the Reader’s Digest version of a season really the way we want to go?

If nothing else, what about nature who has to be so confused…should I bloom, sprout, wilt or wither…store, save, hibernate or hide? You can practically hear the geese…we usually procreate months from now but boy, does that crisp though balmy air make me amorous…honk honk.

Rather than spring they’ll be giving birth in winter, and you know how that will go.

My life, on a personal level is changing at the speed of light, so I need a late summer like a buoy in the water to rely and rest upon.

I’m not ready to break out my layers…trade in my espadrilles for Uggs….jacket verses hoodie. I’m still in shorts and T-shirt mode and…who needs underwear on such a warm day. I’m pissed I hauled out my flannel PJs because last night my legs got cold longing to sleep naked by the open window. If I hadn’t put them on, I would have had to thaw, like a roast from the freezer.

I do hope Indian summer at least makes a cameo, so my hair will frizz and flip like old times, and I can be Lady Godiva for a little while longer.




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To Be A Kid Again

images This morning while stretching on what I like to call an Olmstead/Vaux Bridge (Fredrick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux were the creators of Central Park), I noticed a kid, no more than 6, swinging from a low tree branch.

It more than made me smile wishing I had a camera.

He was in jeans and a bright green shirt happily dangling, his little sneaks not touching the ground. I could hear his mother yelling something to him…probably to be careful, or to stop harassing that tree…an admonishment appropriately maternal.

It also got me to pay heed to the view I have every morning. Dog Hill sloping before me as a dozen or more four-legged inhabitants run relays across its still verdant lawn.

Owners in quorums coffee cups in hand, discussing the events of the coming day.

Nature herself is pretty impressive since she’s still flush with color and bloom. I sigh when I think, any minute the trees will be bare, the grass a dull brown.

I’m just not ready for winter hoping an Indian Summer will show up to prolong putting away my shorts.

The kid on the flying sycamore is still jumping up to catch that branch after taking a good long breather. His arms may have gotten tired, or he just waited for his mom to look the other way.

To be a kid again just for a morning, would do us all a great deal of good.

How do I know?

You should have heard that little boy giggle. Made me want to find my own bough to happily swing from.


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Everything Old Is New Again: And In Your Closet

images Just now I was perusing the window of the over-priced boutique downstairs admiring a chocolate brown velvet blazer.

What a great jacket, I muttered to myself imagining it with jeans, a peekaboo camisole  underneath…a little cleavage winking at the random passer-by.

The mere thought made me feel 45 again.

Then it hit me. I already have one. Not that I’ve worn it in fifteen years, but sure enough there it was, buried behind my hot pink Versace suit some asshole at an art opening burnt a hole in.

Rule of thumb:

Before I buy anything, I first need to check my closet because three out of five times I already own it, in some fashion, pun intended.

My style never alters. I’ve looked the same since I was 20 with a bit of pruning here and there. I no longer wear bright leather pants in the summer, stilettos with shorts or a hot pink suit at all…but my taste rarely wanders beyond the backyard.

It explains why I own over thirty little black dresses in various shapes and lengths. I could easily dress a Sicilian village providing they had pumps, pearls and perhaps a waistline.

I think I was 40 when it dawned on me I kept buying the same piece of clothing over and over again…jeans in various states of slimness, when holes in your knees came from wear, not the whim of Anna Wintour.

The classic black cardigan for winter, beige in spring, white after Memorial Day. A man’s white button-down under a cozy black cashmere turtleneck every girl deserves to have..cuffs worn on the outside. A chic navy pants suit that can be worn anywhere with flats before 5, heels after 7… and last but not least, my inimitable Barbour jacket I plan on being buried in.

Even my, It Happened One Night pajamas don’t change. I still look like Fred MacMurray every time I go to bed. Hell, the bottoms are so roomy I could rent space in the seat.

I will say, sometimes even the best of the best needs to be passed on. If I look at something and feel no nostalgia, I know it’s time.

Take that hot pink suit for instance…Housing Works may have a new acquisition when they open at 11. I can see the tag now…BUY AS IS…that hole in the sleeve making it less than a perfect deal, but someone with supreme sewing skills like my pal E-vita, or Betsy Ross for instance…if she were to buy it, would make it good as new stitching  a five-pointed star where that idiot’s ash landed.

and no one (but me and Betsy and perhaps E-vita) would be the wiser.




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Solemnity Interrupted

Susannah Bianchi:

As the years go by, this day becomes more poignant. I think of all those people who innocently went to work that morning never knowing it would be their last. You are not forgotten.

Originally posted on athingirldotcom:

images-2     We must never forget….

I live right near the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel, and on the night of September 11th I went there to see if there was anything I could do: answer phones, comfort someone, that sort of thing.

When I walked in their side door on 80th Street you could have heard a pin drop. Not one casualty so far, same as the hospital where I had just been giving blood. Dominick, one of the directors said, what they had expected hadn’t happened, at least not yet, but then while talking, a hearse pulled up.

The first fatality to be brought in was Father Mychal Judge, the beloved Chaplain of The New York Fire Department who, when he heard what had happened, rushed downtown to help. When the South Tower collapsed he was killed instantly.

There’s a famous photograph of firefighters carrying him out of the…

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Accessorized To Death

spanish-baby-girlWhy me?

Why do I have to be the one to witness a baby being tortured with jewelry at 10 o’clock in the morning?

I was on my way to a go-see for a post-menopausal drug…yes, this is what happens to old models. You go from Gucci to hormone replacement without passing go.

The train was unusually empty for that hour except for me, a sailor, a couple of school kids, a Black woman the size of a mountain and three Latino women with a baby.

Could have been an add for diversity in our fair city.

As the number 6 wormed its way down Lex, I’m sitting right across from a 4 month-old who, in her little lavender dress that poofed at the bottom, looked like all she needed was a lampshade. She was held by, who may have been a very young grandmother, while the other two women, in their early 20s at most one being the mom, sat on either side. I was charmed of course: puppies and babies, kittens and Little People, my specialty.

I loved her black ringlets curling in the back watching Granny kiss her now and then on her itty-bitty forehead. She had chubby legs adorned with anklets and shiny black ballerinas.

Suddenly she starts screaming at the top of her teeny lungs. Mom was trying to force an earring into her ear and she wasn’t having it.

Have you ever tried shoving an earring in when it doesn’t want to cooperate? It’s a killer. But these women were determined she was wearing hoops, and that was that. This is what happens when babies have babies.

Why Granny didn’t put her foot down was a mystery, but then again, all Latino infants get their ears pierced like a Spanish circumcision.

Let me just say, when I hear a kid cry, I’m at attention always responding in some way and this wasn’t going to be any different. They were torturing this kid for their own sick fashion sense, like when I’m forced to wear polyester….oh no, not on my watch senoritas.

As I was about to intervene, Big Black Mama did it for me, and was she fabulous. She got up, stood in front of these three women and said, “You stop hurtin that bayba’, you hea me? That choll’ don’t need no jew’ry. She’s a bayba’…you cut it out…YOU  HEA ME?”

I watched the sailor nod and the school kids look away from their iPhones. I became her instant wingman saying, “YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT.”

These three women looked petrified, and the baby…bless her little, happy heart giggled as if to say…”You tell-em Big Mama.”

And then I got off the train.


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Sex On The Vine

images I rarely think of ex-lovers. I mean what’s the point. Most of mine crashed and burned and a few, even cremated.

But I found a program to a Lincoln lecture I attended ten years ago, and Professor…are you cute…came to mind.

We must remember the universe will always be more clever than we are. Have you ever tried avoiding someone by taking a different route just to bump right into them anyway? It’s Earth saying: remember who you’re fucking with there Sparky.

Four score and God knows, how many tears ago, I had just made a DRAMATIC declaration…NO MORE MARRIED MEN….after surviving one of the worst break-ups of my life determined never to go down Disappointment Lane again.

You could hear Earth chuckle. “Oh yeah Suz…let’s see,” since, before my drool was even dry, who comes into play, but the Professor.

When I was a kid in my 40s, if my chemistry with another remotely went up, I was really 16.

Let’s turn back the clock to 2004.

There I was, perched in the center of this charming, intimate auditorium in my best Audrey-wear waiting for Harold Holzer to talk about his new book, Lincoln at The Cooper Union. I’m rereading it, so this is where the recollection resurrected from.

M was the Master of Ceremonies, taking the stage with a boyish elegance that made me grow taller. The same age as me, with Kennedyesque hair that flops in his face, cozy in a navy blazer as though he wore it in the womb. His hands were what first got my attention…long graceful fingers he’d hold together when at rest, like a steeple, swirling them in the air to make a point…and a man with cufflinks, still drives me wild.

It’s such a sign of self-esteem, to take the time to put them on. It’s language: I’m worth that time…I’m noble after all…upstanding…dignified. I deserve adorned cuffs. And yes, they conceal my mischief.

Oh my…

After the event over cheese sticks and bad wine, we met. I sauntered over like a gun moll with an itchy trigger finger stopping in my tracks when I saw his wedding ring flashing like a caution sign.

OOPS…I backed up, but he wasn’t as easily discouraged. He pursued me like a bunny until I laid in his trap…force of habit…but still had the key, as far as I was concerned, to hop away.

He was so attractive my thighs swished like the Red Sea. I smile as I pen this because that’s what I miss the most…when a man can press all your buttons at once like Houdini doing a magic trick. When it happens now so rarely…it truly is a magic trick.

Nothing up my sleeve, or my skirt.

We grinned like two imps knowing what the other was thinking. So he did what any other hot academic would do…he invited me to another lecture.

What’s the harm? I thought.

Earth chuckles louder. “Let’s see Susannah…how close can you come without actually coming?”

No, that is not a trick question.

So after undulating to the history of Davie Crockett at The Alamo, we had a drink. Yes, he was married with two sons tying the knot late still missing his bachelorhood. He liked family life and was pretty content, until someone like me walks in (Of all the auditoriums in all the world, she’s gotta walk inta’ mine).

At least he was upfront and didn’t give me the old…I’m so unhappy…my wife…she doesn’t understand me…and she got so fat.

This is what they say, and you in all you egotistical leanness basks in her weigh gain like a naughty little Thingirl. Call this candor 101 ladies and gents and maybe I should take it on the road.

My reaction to our four-star flirt surprised even me. He was a really (and still is) great guy: generous, smart…funny with such a lovely life, but with a reckless streak I also have. I get it from my mother who would have bet our house on a roulette table. You need to guard it the way a prizefighter guards his fists.

You jump in and never think of the consequences that will no doubt occur ripping all that was good to bloody shreds.

I decided not to collude putting him at risk to lose his well earned, beautiful life. The one we all want: family, friends…house in the country…European vacations…topnotch schools for the kids. A chocolate lab romping in the yard while he rakes leaves on a Sunday afternoon. M had it all, and I knew if he got involved with me, ripe for romance, he could lose his paradise…and I just didn’t want to see that happen.

When did I get so virtuous? I guess when I was sitting on the ledge with that bottle of bourbon writing my will.

So I stayed his friend. I called him Huck…he called me Becky…Huckleberry Finn is a favorite book of his (and now mine), keeping things at a simmer until there was no more water left in the pot.

I still write to him on his birthday and he’ll writes back…Oh Becky…to spend a half an hour with you would lift me to the stars.

My own heart lifts, but stays in her yard…and that’s when the Earth finally stops chuckling.

From the SB Archives


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Eating Crow

images-2 Hawks rule Central Park. I see them early in the morning swooping and diving in search of mischief no doubt.

But they do have their advocates. There’s even a bird-watching group who spends time observing them.

A few years go, when a nest was dismantled from the eave of a Fifth Avenue building, hawk lovers went nuts, picketing, calling the newspapers. The evicted hawk family just went down the block to the Carlyle and built a new one. How smart were they. If you can’t live in your desired home, go to a good hotel. My sentiments exactly.

I was hurrying from the East Side to the West to get my hair trimmed, and who do I see lolling on a low branch but a hawk the size of a fox, and in his talons was a very unfortunate black crow.

OOH…did I get a chill.

It was clearly dead or scared out of its wits since it didn’t move, and I knew he was about to become breakfast…crow over light.

I looked at the hawk, a dead ringer for Angelica Huston (if you were hung over, half asleep or without your glasses) with great disdain. He stared right back, the arrogant shit, as if to say, what are you looking at? Do people stare at you when you’re about to sit down to a meal?

Now I have no deep love for crows, but my heart still opened. If that bird looked remotely alive I would have wrestled it away. I know, how crazy is that. You need to understand I can’t bear to kill anything nor see it in pain. Mr Hawk would have had a nutty though worthy opponent.

Of course, I may have ended up at Lenox Hill Emergency I still owe money to, but it didn’t come to that.

I left before breakfast was served and took an alternate route coming back not wanting to see those hawklike table scraps.

And as my Italian grandfather used to say, evera-ba-dy needs tua eat.

Well, since you put it that way.


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Joan Rivers 1933 – 2014

imagesimages-2joanrivers  My mother loved her…would inform anyone who’d listen…that the little girl from Larchmont is the guest host on Johnny Carson tonight.

It was the only time she stayed up…when Joan was on.

I felt very sad when my friend Amy wrote to tell me she had died. Yesterday I was so optimistic when I heard she was so ill…that somehow she’d pull through.

She had conquered many things in her 81 years from succeeding in a predominantly male profession to surviving her husband’s suicide in 1987. Of course she’ll rally…it’s Joan after all.

My heart breaks for Melissa, her only daughter, who bravely took her off life support. They moved her from the ICU at Mount Sinai Hospital to a private room decorated by a good friend so those who loved her could come say good bye. I held it together until I read they brought her dogs.

I used to see her on 62nd Street, where she lived, walking Spike, her beloved Yorkshire Terrier she had for eighteen years. She was tiny, like a petite well-dressed doll, something you wouldn’t expect from a force so tremendous.

The late David Brenner, Melissa’s godfather, once told me what an amazing friend she was, especially when you weren’t at your best. She’d be the first one to call, the first at your door.

It’s hard to believe in one year they’re both gone.

I can only hope wherever we go when we depart this earth, it’s to a galaxy where what we love continues. In the little girl from Larchmont’s case, it was being funny…so I’m gonna bet she’ll sell out heaven in a heartbeat, and David will be there to escort her to the stage.

“Ladies and Gentleman, Angels and Saints….The One and Only….Miss Joan Rivers.”

I’d like to dedicate this post to my friend Amy who loved Joan.


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The All American Family

images While in the park, I walked behind a young couple pushing a baby carriage. I’ve seen them before tooling around the sycamores before 7, a pit-mix leading the way.

Despite her nose ring and the tattoo covering his entire forearm, they have a very traditional tone.

Even the baby with his pacifier wearing a T-shirt that said…Ooh Baby Baby, across its tiny front could have worked for Gerbers.

When my essay light blinked on I didn’t hesitate.

“Hi, good morning,” I said, sidling up. “Been watching your dog…he’s so, so happy. Is he a rescue by any chance?”

“Yeah, the guy beamed. “His name’s Trucker, we got him from the pound.”

You can always spot a rescue, and it has nothing to do with Trucker being a pit either. They are just happier dogs knowing, unlike many of their brethren, they got another chance. No wonder he was running after squirrels he didn’t quite catch, and looking over his shoulder to make sure his family was in view. You mean the world to an animal who finally has a home.

This couple made me smile…mom in her hoodie and denim cutoffs, dad’s cropped army pants with a tight ginny-T both wearing Converse sneaks.

Every few steps he’d peek at the baby making sure his needs were met with an occasional hand on his woman’s shoulder. My kind of guy protecting the nest at all times, but quietly…without fuss or muss.

My heart yearned a bit watching them. How simple and great to just be part of a loving unit…to wake up early starting the day at nature’s table with your whole life ahead of you.

“You’re the all American family,” I said before commencing my run (more of a walk since I’m still a little wobbly).

“Ya think?” the guy said.

“Yup, I do. You’re conventional, with a twist.”

They both grinned and wished me a good day.

When they headed toward the boat pond they turned and waved.

Who said New York wasn’t friendly…it’s just like Iowa, at least this morning it was.



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