So Long Mimi

My friend Mimi died, passed away peacefully in her sleep.

Though well into her 80s, it’s not a comfort when someone says, she lived a good life. Maybe so, but my sadness still surrounds me like a scrim I can’t quite see through.

She was my neighbor across the hall who, when I first moved in, was the only one who bothered getting to know me.

We became friends in a New York minute, as the saying goes, weaving into one another’s lives despite our age difference.

Then two years ago she was convinced by her nephew, it would be better to move into an assisted living home in Washington D.C. saying she was headed towards early dementia. Let me say, she was sharper than a tack, and early dementia in your 80s is kind of funny when you think about it.

The news devastated Mimi since she lived here for over 50 years, but her family frightened her saying, it was best done now, while she still had her marbles…quote, unquote.

There were other options, yet uprooting her was what was done and if there was ever a time I regret not speaking up, it’s now.

I said nothing as I watched her struggle not wanting to go, but also being stoic, not wishing to burden.

She had money, friends, me across the hall, an extra bedroom for someone to come live even part-time, but kept silent painfully selling her things, giving much away since her new home, though grand, was much smaller.

She called me every day at first, saying she was coming back, she’d try it for two months but knew already she was coming home.

It never occurred to me her family would never allow this though they pretended otherwise, but when they wouldn’t even let her come to visit, then I knew.

I’m weeping, selfishly perhaps even writing about it, but writing is the only way I know how to deal with feelings, dispersing them onto the page.

Loss is such a part of life, yet it never feels natural, doesn’t matter how many times it happens. It’s heartbreaking to know I’ll never hear that vibrant voice again say,

Susannah, it’s Mimi…are you eating?

I’d often find a casserole dish in front of my door. I knew she didn’t cook, like me, the two queens of take-out, but figured, by transferring whatever into her earthenware I’d have to return, there was a better chance of me eating it.

The last thing she said to me was, why doesn’t God just take me? A question she’d ask often.

And I’d say, because your room isn’t ready yet Mimi, that’s why, always hanging up on a laugh.

Well, alas, her room is ready now.

Farewell my friend and at some point, we shall meet again, and just so you know,

I’m eating.

Your friend,

Susannah

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Posted in Faith, friendship, grace, Gratitude, humanity, humor, Love, money, New York City, writing | Tagged , , , , | 39 Comments

Raccoons Anonymous

It’s 6 a.m., not quite first light, as I run towards daybreak.

Suddenly I hear a screech, like a car careening around a corner, but of course there are none since the park is still closed. A couple running ahead of me hear it too as the three of us briefly look both ways, not breaking our stride.

There it is again.

I look up and see two immense raccoons fighting on the top branch of a huge tree, a third, smaller, scurrying down.

A family, I decide, the kid knowing he better get the hell outta there if he knows what’s good for him.

Yeah, I say, go visit a friend, relating to parents swinging at one another not caring who gets hit. Run don’t walk, I yell, wishing he could really hear me.

Bet the father’s a drunk and the mother, stupidly trying to reason with him, like any true al-anonic. Every time she approaches him, he slams her again. Wow, I think, how familiar is this?

I want to yell, you both need a meeting…AA for him, Al-Anon for you, ma’am, knowing how much it would help her, but can tell, the way she keeps trying to negotiate with her drunk, that she’s still a victim not realizing, she’s also a willing volunteer.

The kid is smart, unlike me at his age, not hiding under the bed, knowing enough to protect himself at all costs. Maybe when he does venture home, they will have slept it off forgetting the names they called each other and how she got those brutal bruises and blacker eyes.

 Nature, I think, she’s always up to something, as dawn finally rises in the East.

SB

Posted in alcohol, animals, Family, humor, kids, nature, New York City, violence, Women and men, words | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Kale Kale the Gang’s All Here

My neighborhood has sprouted a new eating phenomenon….salad.

Across from every Starbucks seems to be a Just Salads, a Sweet Green or a Fresh & Co featuring quite a few choices, and can’t say I’m too sorry since I patronize all three, favoring the latter.

For around 10 bucks you get a bowl of the green of your choice Elsie would be very content with.  They have names like, California Cobb that’s got mushrooms, cucumbers and blue cheese. Then there’s the Old West, well, that’s what I call it, with kidney beans, corn and avocado, all drizzled with a slew of various organic dressings.

This is how I’ve come to be a kale girl, the Grace Kelly of greens. After all the lettuce terror going on, it seems the safest, but also healthiest, which is how I got into a forced discussion on E. Coli with a woman I so wanted to belt.

Fresh & Co is pleasant, but still a fast food eatery…chairs not quite comfy, tables a bit too close together, to discourage their patrons from spending the afternoon, unlike Starbucks who besieges you like co-dependent parents.

I normally get my salad to go but not today. A soon to be revealed mistake.

I squeeze in next to two women. One is a pretty Latino lady happily eating an avocado and cheddar panini, another thing they make, casually dressed and not on her phone, so we love her immediately.

The other woman, very Upper East Side, her engagement ring the size of a macaroon, is texting between bites of her panini that has lipstick across it.

I’m the only salad eater of the 3.

Macaroon turns two me and says, “Haven’t you seen the news? You shouldn’t be eating lettuce.”

I say nicely, “It’s kale, not lettuce…of the cabbage family,” sounding like Julia Child. She shakes her head, her hair hardly moving and says, “It’s green isn’t it? You have to be really stupid to be eating it.”

In 12 Step they encourage…not to pick up the rope, meaning, don’t engage with assholes, but sometimes that rope is just too tempting not to twirl.

“So let me ask you, money’s green, maybe you shouldn’t be spending it because it might give you a terrible disease, if it hasn’t already, ya know, like rudeness.”

The other woman starts to giggle.

“I don’t think what she said to me was so funny,” said Macaroon, her forehead so Botoxed it couldn’t properly rise nor wrinkle to the occasion.

The lady starts laughing harder.

So then I start laughing to the point where the two of us are practically in tears.

Needless to say, there was suddenly much more room at our table when you know who gathered her Gucci satchel with the matching iPhone case and flounced out.

The other lady said to me, “I’m comin here more often, for the entertainment.”

We then had coffee and cookies together, her treat, so one could say, I sang for my salad. 🙂

SB

Posted in dessert, food, Health, humanity, humor, New York City, women, words | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

A Nutty Word.

I’m on a novel kick these days, a real change from memoir and historical bios.

I’m so enjoying the language, like the word chestnut, I found twice in two different books.

Not the nut roasting on an open fire, but the term for an ancient anecdote told by Grampa or Uncle Sam at every holiday, getting just a little bigger and longer each time.

Reminds me of the Lucy episode when she stands behind Ethel, lip-syncing, knowing by heart, the life story of little Ethel Mae Potter.

Abraham Lincoln was known for his chestnuts, yarns he told over and over again with renewed oomph in every telling.

Webster’s definition…a joke or story that’s become tedious because of its constant repetition; a myth, fable or legend.  

That same saga inspiring eye-rolling around the dinner table.

Oh no, not again!

Apocryphal can also be applied meaning, of doubtful authenticity though widely circulated as being true.

Richard Gere canoodling with hamsters, or The Loch Nest Monster mooning the Scottish Highlands.

Folklore, passed through generations by word of mouth.

Did your mother really meet Errol Flynn? Turned out it was his cousin who years later, miraculously turned into him.

It’s like my ex, after he had had a few belts saying, that he ate lunch every Saturday with Yoko Ono at a popular Japanese restaurant.  Yes, they both sat at the sushi bar, but at opposite ends, never exchanging a word.

Another woman I once worked for told me she too had lunch, but with Alec Baldwin. What she didn’t mention was, so did 300 others because it was a charity event in The Hamptons.

Chestnuts are usually harmless exaggerations meant to entertain.

Oral history with a twinkle…an old wives’ tale, with a wink.

SB

 

 

Posted in alcohol, Books, food, History, humanity, media, New York City, readng, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

There’s a Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On

I’m en route to get my hair done after waking up resembling a rat with an explosion of gray hair. All I need is a tail and a nice hunk’a cheese.

As I tool down Amsterdam Avenue, a shamatta on my head, I see a Pitbull with one bigger than mine loping towards me alongside an imposing fella with his Yankee cap turned backwards.

Now remember, I’m the one who pops into the lion’s cage and says, here kitty, kitty, so the size of this doggie or his owner for that matter, hardly stands in my way of stopping to chat.

“Awe, look at him, ” I say, as though he were a poodle. “Is he a morning person? Ya know, is he friendly?”

“Oh yeah, he looves people.”

“What’s his name?”

Now between my hearing loss and the jackhammering on the corner, I ask him three times.

Ulvis,” he keeps saying.

After my third who, he starts wiggling his hips.

“You know, Ulvis.”

“Elvis? You mean there’s a whole lotta shaking goin on Elvis?”

He laughs while 4-legged Elvis ambles over to say hi, his chest the size of a beer keg.

He’d come, run away, then come back again.

“He shy,” his dad says.

The love between them makes Timmy and Lassie look like amateurs.  After a good ten minute visit, I leave with such a smile becoming contagious every time I think of those wiggling hips

People smile back, having no idea I’m beaming because…

I had just met the King.

Thank ya, thank ya vera much…:)    

SB

Posted in animals, Beauty, grace, humanity, humor, Love, New York City | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Why I Love Little Kids

 Because they remind me to lighten the fuck up and smell the roses.

You see a baby in a stroller, cooing and gurgling, having a grand old time in the moment needing so little for their amusement, like playing with their feet.  Who needs a mobile when your tootsies are available.

Babies are happy…content, committed to self-care.  Napping when needed, having mini meals throughout the day.

They are also good-natured, never minding being changed even in public, grinning as if to say, “Yeah, was feelin a little damp there, so good goin.”

Have you ever noticed how easily babies make friends? It’s as if they’re running for office, collecting votes.   

I always stop sidling up to a carriage, peeking inside.  Yesterday I met Saul in just his Pampers, very Gandhiesque, his bald head matching his diaper.

I guess when you come right down to it, all babies look and act like Mr. Gandhi in his loin cloth chanting, be the change you want to see, or at least, make sure you get changed so you don’t offend anybody.

They’re tiny teachers, simple souls not yet tainted by life’s twists and turns, happy just to be, growing quickly like wise, little weeds.

Next time I see Saul, he’ll be sitting up looking out slapping his knee thinking, to think I missed all this snoozing.

He’ll then graduate from his bottle to a plastic baggie of Cherios he’ll munch while cheerfully studying the scenery.

He’ll remind me to HALT, a 12 Step (and baby) acronym that asks…are you…hungry, angry, lonely or tired?

That’s when I’ll know it’s time for either a nap, a walk in nature or my very own bag of Cherios, and a good laugh.      

SB

 

Posted in grace, humanity, humor, kids, Love, nature, New York City, words | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

Best Story of the Week…TAXI!

A man I do some work for with a bad back, asked if I’d meet his flight at Kennedy, offering to pay generously to help with his bags.

I would have done so anyway, played porter just to be kind, but since he more than has the means I gladly accepted the offer.

It’s 4 a.m., I hail a cab that pulls up to the curb like a bright yellow chariot.

A hardy, African American man behind the wheel says, like in the movies, “Where to lady?”

“Kennedy, will you take me?”  Even though it’s against the law to say no, sometimes they just don’t want to go that far, but he says, “Sure, get in.”

I then ask if he’d please stop so I can get coffee, “for the both of us,” I say, “my treat.”

Mac, the name gleaming off the dash, looks at me curiously, but agrees. I hop out at an all-night bodega on Third, and get us two cups of an inky blend and two buttered hard rolls.

We proceed to the airport arriving in no time, making me an hour early.

He says, “I’ll wait with ya if ya want,” even after I pay him.

Come to find out, Mac lives in Queens not far from Kennedy with his wife Cecily and their two kids, Marvin and Lily, a German Shepherd called Mandela, and a cat named Trix. “Ya know, like the cereal,” he says, “ma kids named her.”

He goes to DeVry University during the day and drives all night so Cecily can be a stay-at-home mom.

“That’s what’s wrong wit families that don’t plan right,” he says, “the kids…they gotta have somebody home or ya know they’ll get in ta some kinda trouble. Theys’ kids.”

Come to find out we’re both readers, To Kill a Mockingbird his favorite book. He doesn’t drink, drug or swear in front of his children.

He sends his mother money, back in Belize.

He then says, “Ya know lady, I’ve been drivin this cab for 11 years, and no one ever bought me a cuppa coffee ba’fore.”

“Really?” I say, kind of surprised. “Well ya know Mac, maybe you’ve just been pickin up the wrong people.”

“Yeah,” he says, smiling, “maybe so,” as we silently finish our coffee, and eat the last of our rolls.

Just one more New York story.   

SB

Posted in animals, Books, Faith, Family, food, friendship, grace, humanity, humor, kids, New York City, parents, readng | Tagged , , , , | 27 Comments

Following Susannah

I’m frequently asked how is it, I have so many stories to share?

Why am I always engaging with strangers?

Just so you know, I thought about this long and hard before responding.

It’s the writer in me…it’s where my avid curiosity comes from.

I’ve also read a lot about journalists, writers who started their careers conjuring up leads for demanding newspapers, achieving this by paying attention. Nora Ephron, an idol of mine, began that way as did my other hero, Pete Hamill.

Then of course you have those who stayed cloaked in columns till they could write no more.

Mary McGrory coming to mind.

It’s also why I make it a point to read Peggy Noonan’s op-ed every Saturday in the Wall Street Journal since her observations tickle the mind and prod the imagination.

Walt Whitman was famous for talking to those he didn’t know. Could be why he said, “Don’t be judgmental, be curious instead,” advice I take along in my travels.

Toss in my commitment to this blog I’ve always treated like a paying job, and engaging with passersby seems to be a rite of passage, no pun intended.

So, that’s my well thought about answer to why I’m always in the thick of situations no one else seems too concerned about.

As my writer friend David Stewart had printed on little rubber bracelets, for those moments of doubt and confusion….

‘YOUS A WRITA NO MATTA WHAT.”   

SB  🙂

 

 

 

Posted in Books, humanity, humor, media, women, Women and men, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Buffalo in Spandex

 It’s the time of year when that herd of seasonal runners come out from behind the 10 pounds they’ve gained over the winter in all their pudgy splendor.

Think bears with a full fridge.

There should be a law that men can’t wear Spandex, their private parts incarcerated with a little too much definition for my taste, if you know what I mean.

And the women look like ads in their new expensive togs and state-of-the-art sneakers sashaying like weekend houseguests who aren’t quite familiar with the grounds.

You and the 20 or so other all-year-rounders try to be patient like all good hosts, but sometimes it gets challenging.

Like this morning.

I was a bit later then usual so the light was already up. There’s a Spandexed woman in front of me, on her phone, I’m trying to pass. The trouble is, every time I do she slips in front like a car careening on the freeway.

Finally after a few minutes of this mindless behavior, I call out.

“Hey, could you please let me by?”

She ignores me.

I say it again. Ignores me again.

Okie-doxie…”WILL YOU GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY PLEASE.”

She jumps hanging up her phone.

“Well you don’t have to yell,” says this 45 maybe 50, hard to tell with all the face work, how old she is exactly, her make-up done like she’s ready for her close-up.

I, on the other hand, look like one of the boat people in my old shorts and hoodie, sneaks that need replacing since my left big toe is waving to the folks back home.

“I’ve been trying to get your attention,” I say, “but you’re been on the phone, which by the way, really kinda defeats the purpose of being out here…

She tries interrupting.

It’s a time of personal meditation, not the coffee hour. You know what I mean?”

She ponders this, to her credit then says, “Well, my doctor told me to start easy, so I was just walking, to get my body ready.”

For what, a massage? No I didn’t say that.

Instead, feeling guilty for yelling, give her a few pointers inviting her to join me, which she happily agrees to do.

“You’re like a personal trainer,” she says, taking a slug of water from the little plastic bottle hooked to her Fendi fanny pack like a .38.

“Running sure works up a thirst,” she says, after we go maybe 30 feet.

When we get to the westside cutoff, I excuse myself.

“You’ll be fine, just keep running at that moderate pace.”

“Thanks,” she says, as I leave.

When I turn around, there she is, back on her phone, strolling like a well-heeled snail.

Good thing she brought water since, talking sure must work up a thirst.  

SIGH

SB

 

 

Posted in Fashion, humanity, humor, New York City, Women and men | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Edwina Allan Poe

I seem to be giving the term cranky all new meaning, blaming it on the weather, but it dawned on me, I’m kinda like this all year round.

All writers are moody, I’m told. I try finding comfort in this, although it’s usually followed by, and quite often drunk.

I stopped drinking a while ago. It wasn’t exactly improving things, and my bills were becoming legendary. I think Bank of America said my Visa and I were headed for a free washer and dryer at the rate we were going.

What’s ailing me? Mostly the behavior of others which is why I’m hermetically sealed in my apartment like a sullen shepherd. All I need is a flock of sheep to tend.

BAH…BAH humbug.

An ex of mine, a guy I was pretty nuts about, came sniffing back around. Seems he’s single now, or will be, and is looking for a handy replacement. No, I wasn’t thrilled by this. The translation at such a sudden reappearance is…to do laundry and pack his bags because he travels ten months out of the year. Gee, wonder why he’s getting a divorce.

He was stunned when I showed little interest, his ego the size of Jupiter.

“You never spoke to me again, remember?” I said, trying not to slap him.

“Yeah, but you know why sweetie, come on.”

“Actually I don’t, but guess what Tonto, I don’t care.” And Edwina turned on her high heel and loped off head held high.

I was mad, because not that long ago, I would have traded a kidney to hear those words, but alas, timing is everything. I did cry though thinking it was a helluva time to be on the wagon since brandy is such a good listener.

But then, wrapped in my down comforter, old cranky me thought, when all is said and done, whether you’re on the eternal rag or not, you’ve come a long way baby.

Yes indeed.   

SB

 

Posted in alcohol, animals, Gratitude, humanity, humor, Love, New York City, sexual relationships, Women and men, writing | Tagged , , , , | 32 Comments