A Writer’s Self-doubt

My creativity has been up on the ledge lately dangling her feet. She feels alone and inept, underappreciated and forlorn, yet the well isn’t dry.

It still seems damp, way at the bottom.

I sit at my desk most days attempting to write. It’s been a long time since I’ve published, but like any triumph, it fades in the sun.

I’m not a particularly great self-promoter. Actually I’m terrible at it.

If I discovered the cure for cancer, you’d never hear it from me.

I’ve gone over reasons for this many times, but preening makes me feel foolish and awkward, yet find myself envious of others who have the knack.

A man I used to date, for a second, came back into my life. When I told him I had a blog, he said really? How fun. Then sent me his own book without even asking.

See, he has the knack.

Why can’t I ever take a bow? Half the people I know have no bows to take, yet take them anyway, convincing the masses through social media how outstanding they are.

I sit and scratch my head.

Could be that war wound from my mother who told me I was stupid.

This alone keeps my shrink in walkin’ around money.

With the exception of Twitter, I took myself off social media because of the creeps that came out of the woodwork. It scared me to be quite honest. I don’t like being pursued, especially by those who have hurt me in the past.

Hey, Suzana, memba me…we had sex in the back’a my Pontiac.  Actually I don’t, except now I see my legs hanging out a window.

There’s a woman, a former follower, who had written the meanest comment over her loyalty to Donald Trump, attacking me with her Christian self-righteousness. I was kind by not retaliating, but then she came back, begging for forgiveness like an abusive lover. She even looked up my address and sent me a card. How inappropriate, and rest my case on the invasion of privacy.

She seems to have finally gone, at least I hope so.

So I’m here at my desk, wooing my muse who must be out of town.

If you see her, would you give her my best?

Maybe I’m just not that good of a writer.

Maybe that’s the real issue here.

I do rant over things the world doesn’t seem to care about…navy blazers and books, fits of kindness, American History, and deli men and dogs who know your name.

Therefore, what I’ve decided to tell my censor when he says…who do you think you are Susannah?

is…

I’m just a plain, ordinary girl who loves to write.

So there!    

Susannah

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Best Story of the Week…April 15th

There’s a smart looking woman, I’d say, in her early 70s walking up Madison I’m trailing behind.

She’s wearing black capris, a black boat-necked top peeking under a simple understated, slate gray gabardine trench, with Audrey flats beneath bare ankles.

I’m wondering if she’s cold.

I can’t help staring, finding myself, fashionably dazzled.

We both pop into the drugstore, emerging at the same time, so I stop to say, “I have to tell you…you look so great. I wish I owned your whole outfit.”

She’s clearly startled by this, but then says, “Thank you so much. I can’t say the last time anyone paid me a compliment.”

I now notice what look to be, gray raw pearls gracing her ears. Also that she’s not carrying a purse. A hint of lipstick taints her front teeth, but then again, it could be a shadow.

“Maybe people just aren’t as bold as I am,” I say, “because I’m sure I’m not the first to notice. You look… I pause searching for the right words…how can I put it…very Carolina Herrera, yes, that’s it…the way the lines of your coat fall just so.”

Suddenly a black sedan pulls up, the driver jumping out to open the door. Before getting in, the woman says, “You’ve made my day. Can I drop you anywhere?”

Suddenly I’m in a 40s movie.

“No,” I say smiling, “I’m very near where I live, but thank you for the offer.”

I watch her glide in, the well heeled driver closing the door, thinking, that’s that, when suddenly the car is alongside me.

She rolls down the window, grinning like a kid.

“So you know, it is Carolina Herrera. She’s all I wear.”

Only in New York.     Mrs. Herrera, respectfully.

SB

Posted in Beauty, Culture, Fashion, humanity, inspiration, New York City, Women and men, words, writing | Tagged , , , | 47 Comments

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 , , , | 72 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 , , , , , | 63 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 , , , | 48 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 , , , , | 49 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

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