What Will Be?

My life looks nothing like the one I had a year ago right before the virus hit. It feels as if I’m living someone else’s, having no clue how to get the old one back.

I remember working downtown on West Street beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, telling anyone who’d listen, all that I knew about her majestic presence. Three days later, the city shut down as if Hitler marched in, to combat an enemy just as deadly, but one we couldn’t see.

We stood in long lines for food, hoarding toilet paper and soap like it was the Cuban Missile Crisis, and a crisis it’s been, masks replacing smiles, our eyes still suspicious of all those we see.

I don’t know about you, but after September 11th, I thought I had seen the worst.

Whoever would have thought.

I ran every day in Central Park petrified they’d close it. I said prayers for the sick and dying in the tents in front of Mount Sinai hospital. I pretended not to see the trucks filled with bodies that couldn’t be buried, and their drivers standing helplessly by. 

I Zoomed my gloom the best I knew how.

If I may speak for all, we were bewildered, caught with our pants down in our lofty arrogance that this sort of thing could never happen in our lifetime.  

So now what?

What’s in store?

What will be?

Isak Dinesen wrote…God made the earth round so we would never be able to see too far down the road.

Is this what she meant?

Alcoholics Anonymous suggests living one day at a time. 

Is this what they meant? 

If we’ve learned anything after the Coronavirus it’s that we truly know nothing waiting on God to see what he does next, and that includes nonbelievers. 

To quote Hemingway, ‘here are no atheists in foxholes, and a hole we’ve all been in.

Wondering with a side of worry is pointless, so yes, let’s live within the parameters of this one day grateful for what is, hopeful and humble about tomorrow.   

  SB

 

 

Posted in Culture, Faith, food, grace, Gratitude, Health, History, Home, humanity, New York City, war, words, writing | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

She Likes To Engage

I’m often asked, how I come by all my stories. Certainly some must be made up.

The truth is, they’re not, the reason being…

I like to engage.

Engage in...participate or become involved…(engage with)… establish a meaningful contact or connection.

Partake, share, join and unite.

Interlock, fit together, commingle and mesh.

Yup, all the above apply to me. To sum it up, I love to put in my two cents, even with merely a smile that may ignite that exchange.

Dogs are great copilots since they’re born engagers.

Their main gift is doing it without words, tails wagging and head bunts the language they speak, dogese if you will.  

Frankly, I’m someone who’s easily interested in events around her, that cub reporter I will always long to be.

To observe is an art…to not miss the colors or asides, the expressions nor the actions that build the recollection.

Am I just naturally nosy, or is it the writer in me trolling for a tale, anything to write about, but alas, does it matter why, as long as we can engage on the page…

writer and reader in a literary duet.

To have a hand in, spark, enlighten and entertain. Or better yet, evoke and provoke another’s imagination.

What could be better than that?

Did I tell you about the woman who pulled up in a vintage Rolls driven by another woman in old time livery? I watched her alight like an aging movie star, nodding to me as she entered the bank.

So inspired by her gust of glamour, at once went home to change, wishing I were at the Carlyle in 1931 when she first opened her majestic doors, wearing gloves and a cloche, gracing the bar that, if could only talk, the tales it could tell.

🙂

SB

 

 

Posted in animals, art, creative writing, Culture, humanity, humor, inspiration, New York City, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 50 Comments

Best Story of the Week…April 8th

I was feeling blue, so I did what I always do, went out for a walk.

I found myself at the Library lost in the stacks, starting with Vonnegut, backing up to Mailer, then Hemingway hoping for some solace from the ether.

When I found myself facing Pete Hamill, lingered a bit, wiping my eyes remembering him, his parting still fresh before leaving.

As I came out, a father and his little girl were walking by hand in hand.

A little Irish girl she looked like, with curly red hair and white tights over her diapered J-Lo butt, toddling happily, the hem of her dress teased by the breeze.

She gave me the sweetest smile, sparking one in me.

I looked at the proud dad and said, “She’s the cutest, and you both look very happy.”

His smile matched hers, just a bigger version, when suddenly she leaned over and took my hand.

I was so stunned by this tiny gesture from this tiny being, choked up beneath my mask.

I felt that warmth moments before I was so searching for, as the three if us, hand in hand, slowly made our way to the corner.  

Thanks Pete, who had two little Irish girls of his own.      

SB

Posted in Books, creative writing, Culture, Faith, Family, friendship, grace, humanity, humor, inspiration, Love, New York City, parents, words, writing | Tagged , , , | 31 Comments

I’m a J. Crew Girl

I always marvel when people say I’m well dressed.

It’s more, I’m simply put together that never lets on it’s fashion on the cheap. 

Lesson number one…don’t ever follow a fad since, you’ll look dated before you pay off your Visa bill. 

If you stick with the classics you’re better off since, who doesn’t appreciate a blazer over a cool pair’a jeans.   

Even a guy should choose that for his uniform since, there’s nothing like a fella in sleek Levis and a button-down loosely tucked, sleeves peeking beneath that natty jacket. 

It’s that classic Ralph Lauren look women love, with eternal sex appeal.

Who says pretending you play polo is phony? 

Alright, I’ll give you that. 

What inspired this piece was a wealthy woman I know and frankly, can’t stand since her snarky remarks make you wonder if she suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome. 

I’ve never been a fan of…mean for sport. I’m from Connecticut after all, where if you can’t say something nice, shut the fuck up, is printed alongside the state bird, an American Robin that might even own a blazer.

But like a sniper shooting, Snark and her mink coat sidled up to say, how surprised she always is how nice I look, and no I didn’t smack her. I was already recycling her bile into this essay.

“What caught your eye?” I ask, “I can’t wait to hear?” 

Being a vintage narcissus, she missed my squirt of sarcasm. 

“It’s that old Barbour of yours with all those layers underneath. How you leave it open to show off that navy blazer. How old is that now?” 

“How old are you?” Her sneer shortened. 

 “I only ask that since, you’re right,” I say, back-peddling afraid I’d miss one of her classic cracks, “I bought it at Brooks Brothers years ago.”

“You should just save your money and buy a fur,” she said, caressing her coat like a pet.

We parted ways. 

Actually, what I didn’t tell Snarky was that it was a J. Crew, what they call a school boy blazer   that costs a fraction of the price of the Brooks I do still have but favor the former. It’s of lighter weight with plain buttons and cushy pockets that keep their shape.

The tip’s the same, invest in a nice jacket, but well, my sartorial selections aren’t as serious as they once were…labels, an unnecessary expense since nowadays J. Crew rivals Polo aside from price. 

As far as that mink coat goes, I so wanted to tell her, if I were you Snarky, I’d stay away from Maine during hunting season, but alas, that robin, fluttered.     

SB

 

 

 

Posted in animals, Connecticut, Culture, Fashion, humanity, humor, New York City, women, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 30 Comments

New Deli

My friend who owns a gourmet shop gave me upon request, a modest slice of grilled eggplant that, after eating it, made me look like a pylon who swallowed a rat, the button to my jeans popping after telling me, there was no salt. 

NEXT DAY…

“Anthony, remember that eggplant you gave me?”

He nods while chomping on a baguette. 

“You did say, there was no salt, right?…

He doesn’t answer…chomp chomp. 

I’m only asking because, I think there was, and quite a bit as a matter of fact.”

“What’s your point?” he asks, with his mouth full. 

“My point is, if someone had high blood pressure, or a heart condition, it wouldn’t be good for them.”

“Do you have high blood pressure?”

“No.”

“Then shut up and have some toast.”

Our respective Italian now goes toe-to-toe. 

“Anthony, you can’t say your food has no salt if it does. That’s false advertising, plus these people trust you when you tell them something, like all you sell is organic.”

“What are you, Miss vegetable now? I’m running a business.”

“Well that doesn’t give you the right to lie or to make your workers lie.”

“My workers don’t lie.” 

“Is that why Arturo is doctoring up the bean salad?”

“It gets limp overnight.” 

“Apparently, that’s not the only thing.” 

What happened next? 

He kicked me out of the store, without coffee. 

SB

 

 

 

Posted in Culture, food, friendship, Health, humanity, humor, men, New York City, Women and men, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 60 Comments

Best Stories of the Week…April 1st

MONDAY…early, en route to the Park, I see a fella with droopy drawers coming towards me carrying what looks like a liter of Coke or Pepsi before ducking into an alcove.

As I’m about to pass I hear him say to a big bundle of blankets with feet sticking out...look what I found, and it’s almost full, the joy of his good fortune mewing in the moonlight. 

My own gratitude, fast asleep, is now wide awake.

LATER ON…a Sheepdog called Otis has moved into the neighborhood.

Otis, or O as he’s called, has a Beatle haircut, paws like surf boards and is the size of a Buick.

When I stopped to pet him, in his profuse exuberance, pinned me against my building. “Have we met?” I asked, as he yanked my mask down before licking my face.

I didn’t mind of course, but the rate things are going in the #METOO department, Otis might consider putting a lawyer on retainer.

WEDNESDAY…The Gap has been having their bi/annual Friends and Family Sale, so I bought a new baseball cap for Arturo, the Deli Man, who’s been looking sad lately.

When he appeared puzzled getting a present, I said, “I just want you to always remember Arturo, how special you are.”

I thought he was going to cry.

He didn’t.

Instead, he gave me Brussels sprouts.  🙂  

SB

 

Posted in animals, Culture, Faith, grace, Gratitude, humanity, humor, inspiration, money, New York City | Tagged , , , | 47 Comments

A Few Good Men

A Few Good Men is a favorite play and film of mine, both written by Aaron Sorkin, the play on cocktail napkins while he was an usher at a Broadway theater, proving what author Julia Cameron says…

a writer writes, whenever and wherever he possibly can.

It’s a fitting title for what I’m about to pen, centering on the vendors in my neighborhood, those that show up day after day in all kinds of weather, never wavering without complaint.

I also love how they all care for each other.

When I went to the coffee cart to get the fruit man a tea on a very cold day, when I said who it was for, the guy said, “I know how he likes it,” giving me the largest cup. When I saw the heaps of sugar, I became doubtful, but later learned, that’s exactly how he takes it.

Upon delivery, I asked if he supplied the coffee man with the bananas he sells.

He just grinned, as if knowing a big secret.

Have I mentioned, on my way in or out of the drugstore alongside his cart, he’ll sneak in my bag an apple or peach, in season, I won’t find till I get home?

A few good men these days are hard to come by, unless you look where you least expect them.   🙂   

SB

Posted in Culture, food, friendship, grace, Gratitude, humanity, humor, inspiration, New York City, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 48 Comments

Did You Know…American Civil War Edition

At 4:30 a.m. on April 12th, 1861, the American Civil War began.

Four years later on April 9th, 1865, after 620,000 men mostly boys many between the ages of 13 and 17 died, ended.

President Abraham Lincoln being told, there was no one more capable, offered Robert E. Lee total command of the Union Army.

Lee, though moved, declined unable to turn his back on his beloved state of Virginia though knowing, he would lose his home that fell on the outskirts of Washington D.C.

We know it today as Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

The Custis-Lee Mansion, now called Arlington House, can still be seen along with the graves of the first Union soldiers Quartermaster General Mongomery C. Meigs, buried in Mrs. Lee’s rose garden out of anger after losing his own 22 year-old son, John, in battle also interred there. 

To me, those graves always look embarrassed, about to apologize.

Meigs himself is buried at Arlington, along with Lincoln’s eldest son, Robert.  

The term hooker is attributed to Union General Joseph Hooker having a succession of war groupies following his regiment.  

Union General, Ambrose Burnside, sure had them, siring the trend also referred to as, mutton chops.

Mr. Lincoln, on that fateful, farewell night at Fords Theater, had invited General Grant and his wife Julia to the performance of Our American Cousin starring Laura Keene, the Meryl Streep of her time, but Julia who couldn’t stand Mary Lincoln, refused to go, probably saving her husband’s life who was also on John Wilkes Booth’s greatest hits list.

Why didn’t she like Mary? On one occasion, she accused her of flirting with Abe when the two couples went on a carriage ride, so Julia got pissed. 

Apparently even in 1865, women fought like cats, in petticoats.

On September 17th, 1862 the Battle of Antietam in Sharpsburg, Maryland was the bloodiest battle in American History, 23,000 men died, were wounded, or went missing over the course of one day.

Hard to fathom when you see it now.

The Battle of Shiloh, that same year, in Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, in two days, lost 23,000 men.

The irony…Shiloh in Hebrew means, place of peace. Like Gettysburg, it also has its own cemetery, the fallen meticulously tended to as if they were still in pitched tents, awaiting orders. 

William Tecumseh Sherman, nicknamed Uncle Billy by his high-spirited Division of the Mississippi, who during their infamous March to the Sea to stop the south from getting their food supplies, mangled all the railroad tracks coining them, Sherman’s neckties.

Sherman and U.S. Grant were best friends after meeting at West Point, loyal to a fault. Sherman said…Grant stood by me when I was crazy, I stood by him while he was drunk, and now we stand by each other.  

They sure don’t make men like that anymore, do they.

As for Robert E. Lee, when he couldn’t bear to see his men suffer any longer, on April 9th, 1865, sent a white Confederate Flag of truce that in reality, was a mere towel (preserved at Washington’s Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History) to Ulysses S. Grant at the now iconic Appomattox Court House  in Appomattox, Virginia who after accepting Lee’s defeat, kindly gave back all their food.

They were also able to keep their horses in exchange for the promise to never take up arms against the Union again.

Bighearted Abe, just like in the Bible’s Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32), only wanted his boys to come back home. 

SB

Posted in Books, History, humanity, inspiration, media, war, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 34 Comments

Best Story of the Week…March 25th

I’m walking on Madison towards home. Up ahead is an elderly woman with a large L.L. Bean Boat and Tote bag.

I watch as she stops every few steps to rest.

I sidle up alongside.

“That looks heavy. I seem to be going your way, so may I help? We can carry it together.”

She sizes me up making sure I’m not about to rob her before saying, “No, I’m alright thank you,” looking at her watch.

The seer that I am says, “Are you going to the Express Bus stop, by any chance?”

“Yes, as a matter a fact I am,” she says, “and I’ll probably miss the 4 o’clock and have to wait for the 5.”

“Not if you let me help you, you won’t.”

After mulling this over she says, “Well, okay.”

We each take a strap, and boy, even with two of us, it’s heavy.

“What do you have in here, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Passover.”

“Oh,” says the shiksa.

We get to the bus that’s just pulling up, and she says, “I’m fine from here.”

“Are you sure?” I ask, “because I can help carry it onto the bus.”

There’s a middle-aged Latino man smoking, with a Spider-Man lunch box also waiting, listening to our exchange.

He says, “Don’t worry, I got it from here.”

We both smile, but the best part?

So did the woman who with little resistance, let him, making you wonder if he really was Spider-Man. 

Hey, it is New York after all.  🙂 

 SB

 

Posted in Culture, food, humanity, humor, inspiration, New York City, travel, Women and men, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 41 Comments

War Is Hell

I was perusing Bruce Catton’s classic book, Surrender at Appomattox, when I came across William Tecumseh Sherman’s famous quote, war is hell.

After accepting the pandemic as a foreign enemy we just can’t see, I’ve concluded, it sure is.

Seems that fear and the virus are still doing their damned duet, attacking in equal measure with no end in sight despite the rise in vaccinations.

Yes, like a puppy, I have had my shots, but this seems irrelevant to my floor mates.

There are two people in particular, still treating me whenever we meet, like a leper, and with ferocity I might add. I always pause before pouncing in defense, because I know they’re not at their best, but beginning not to care.

Enough is enough.

Individuals should realize, this isn’t only happening to them, it’s affecting all of us, and we’re finally, if you take your smug heads out of your ass, coming out of the wilderness.

We are, so buckle up neighbors.

Kindness, by the way, should be up front, not ricocheted resentment wrapped in fear like a bad burrito.

We lead by example, and goodness comes with little cost.

To quote the Talmud...The highest form of wisdom is kindness.

I personally think, that, and smack your neighbor should become  law.

  Glad I got that off my chest. I’m now a whole new girl.  🙂

SB

Posted in Culture, History, humanity, New York City, war, words | Tagged , , , , | 55 Comments