Best Story of the Week…January 18

It was early rush-hour on a drizzly day, when the streets of Manhattan most resemble Tokyo.

I was in step along with my fellow New Yorkers, right and left, crossing the grid like ants in a hurry.

This was when I witnessed a young boy of color, no more than 14, take a spill on the pavement.

I watched him bounce up, a brilliant save of face since, no one at any age, let alone his, wants to be seen on their butt with stars in their eyes.

In true commuter fashion, no one stopped, pretending no one saw, except for me, who unusually hesitated, not wanting to humiliate him further, even though tripping is a human blunder we’ve all made.

However, finding myself beside him breaking my own seal, softly asked, “Are you okay?”

He looked at me like I was an alien, or an old angel in a hoodie and a raincoat.

“I think so,” he said, in a way that told me he went to a good school.

“How are your hands?” I knew he hit them pretty hard since even I heard the sharp slap saluting the sidewalk.

He held them out, like a friendly pup, so I saw how red they were, commingling with the shade of his tender skin.

“Hey, ya know what I have?” I said, digging into my tote, “Shea Butter Cream.”

I gave his hands a good squirt they drank in like rainwater, before bidding him a gentle goodbye.

“Thanks a lot,” he said, smiling, recovering quickly as only a kid can.

My only regret was not just giving him the last of the tube.

Oh well.

Angel in training.    🙂 images.jpeg

 

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Posted in Culture, grace, humanity, inspiration, kids, New York City, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 23 Comments

Walk In Grace

A friend of mine who recently lost her husband, signed off an email with…

Walk in Grace.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, yet it keeps appearing in my thoughts like a faint, flicker of light.

She certainly has honed the skill, so beautiful and stoic, loss trailing behind her like a somber lady’s maid.

The word addict that I am, went to the heart of it like a curious scientist taking it apart at the seams…simple elegance of refinement or movement. Courteous goodwill…a polite, attractive manner of behaving, according to Mr. Webster.

To take it up a notch…the free and undeserved favor of God…the salvation of sinners…a bestowing of blessings bringing one to their knees.

Wow! Did I unleash a power greater than myself, religion going up a quart since, there are no atheists in a foxhole, said Hemingway, and collectively can’t deny, we all find ourselves in one, from time to time.

Saying grace.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.

Grace under fire.

Grace Kelly…

Will and Grace…

Grace Slick singing…Don’t you want somebody to love?

images.jpeg

What exactly does grace mean to me personally?

That I’m no longer ashamed of my hearing loss, allowing it to be a part of me same as my humor and short, black hair.

When a person is rude and impatient when I ask if they’d please speak up or look at me, and it’s too much to ask.

Thinking of Hicks in a cold grave in Mississippi, when he should be warming up in the on-deck circle ready to hit another grand slam.

When I see a homeless person wrapped in newspapers as I head home to heat and comfort.

There but for the grace of God go I.

Well that certainly sums it up.

Anne Lamott says, I do not at all understand the mystery of grace…only that it meets us where we are, and does not leave us where it found us.

How bout we just leave it at that.Unknown.png

SB

 

 

Posted in creative writing, Culture, Faith, grace, Gratitude, humanity, inspiration, New York City, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

A Fat, Juicy Word

I’ve been reading a book on the Gilded Age, code for lavish, over-the-top living in the early 1900s, in the bowels of rich, Victorian New York. A time where Astors, Whitneys and Vanderbilts roamed like diamond laden dinosaurs erecting mansions filled with every opulent item money could buy, all at the helm of the late, great infamous architect, Stanford White.  Unknown.jpeg

In my ghoulish travels, I went down to 26th Street and Madison Avenue where the second Madison Square Garden he designed, once stood, a plaque preening in its lusty, historical lore. It was where, on June 25, 1906, White was gunned down by the unhinged millionaire, Harry Kendall Thaw, Unknown-1.jpeg to retaliate over a previous relationship with his carnal, wild, showgirl of a wife, Evelyn Nesbit images.jpeg the tabloids coining it, The Crime of the Century.

I stood there getting chills.

Mary Cummings, author of, Saving Sin City, penned in 2018, did so in lovely language, always music to this reader’s ear, using a word that stayed with me...corposity, not found in any dictionary.

Carved from the adjective corpulent, basically meaning fat, a half century ago it was used to describe a portly gentleman who was perceived as having, quite a corporation, referring to the size of his stomach. And though it may sound insulting, it was considered a compliment appearing well-fed, a sure sign of prosperity.

Things sure have changed. This was in an era where no one ever heard of a cholesterol count. Livers the size of hams, would occasionally explode like in the case of Reggie Vanderbilt, father of Gloria, who truly drank himself to death. In other words, where eating and drinking were concerned, all bets were off.

If one indeed had a corporation, fleshy, pudgy and plump, you can guarantee he also had a good tailor to let out all seams, cover and conceal the results of an over-active appetite.

Stanford White was only 53 when he died instantly on the Garden’s parquet floor he himself had installed, but during Thaw’s trial who justly ended up in an asylum, it was said, due to White’s flagrant corporation haunting his health, if Thaw had just waited a little longer, he indeed might have died of natural causes.

And, could you please pass the butter, in memory of those tubby, pudgy, overweight gluttons in white tie and tails, proudly preening in their porky, plucky, plus-sized, corpulent, incorporated, corposity.

Words, they give me chills.

SB

 

 

Posted in alcohol, art, Beauty, Books, creative writing, Culture, History, humanity, men, New York City, violence, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 34 Comments

Best Story of the Week…January 11

This one’s about me, an epiphany I had while walking in Central Park.

An epiphany is a moment of sudden revelation, a divine announcement stopping you dead in your tracks. A smack to the forehead, a, could’a had a V8, how did I miss that, as if the sky opened and God popped out and waved.

I worry a lot, common terrain for someone who exists pretty much alone. It seems to have become a hobby, like collecting stamps or old quilts.

But on this crisp day, as I strolled east to west in the predawn light, counting those concerns like sheep, I found myself escorted by 3 squirrels as if they were tour guides working for the Parks Department.

Like most native New Yorkers, they aren’t afraid of their brethren, regardless of one’s packaging. They sidled up as if to say, nice morning, right? Ya don’t happen to have a nut on ya, now do ya?

I watched them play tag, stopping short, tumbling like rodeo clowns.

The startling insight that shined like a search light was their lack of concern over anything but where they found themselves, which was tooling alongside me.

They weren’t wasting time worrying, gee, do ya think we’ll have enough nuts for the week? Oh God, what if it pours and there are no tourists to feed us? Do ya think we should get facelifts?

They knew they had enough for right now, staying in the moment, one day at a time like members of a 12 Step group.

Stay where your feet are, came to mind, and enjoy the day, since it’s really all you have.

I looked over at The Chrysler Building all lit up in the distance standing since 1930, reminding me there are some things you can actually still count on, like your feet, and the squirrels in Central Park who after making you laugh at yourself, will happily see you home….   Unknown.jpeg even if you’re the only nut to be had.

Susannah

 

Posted in animals, creative writing, Culture, Faith, humor, New York City, writing | Tagged , , , | 43 Comments

Mending Wall…Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself.
I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”  Robert Frost  (1874-1963)
In response to my essay, The Comfort of History, a reader sent a passage from this poem that was so stirring, I felt compelled to read it in its entirety.
Written in 1914, Mending Wall is a poem in blank verse that’s appropriate for these trying times. It’s about two neighbors who one spring day meet to walk along the wall that separates their land and repair it where needed. … We all have neighbors, we all know that walls, of all kinds, eventually need repairing.
Posted in art, Books, creative writing, Culture, humanity, inspiration, Politics, readng, Uncategorized, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 29 Comments

The Comfort Of History

This shutdown business has me quite undone. I can’t believe it’s still unresolved without any end in sight.

What about those of us inside the wall?

I went to my bookcase taking down an atlas on past presidents: Lincoln, FDR, Truman and JFK the ones I turned to.

Harry S. Truman, the only American President who didn’t attend college, was given the tragic task of stepping into Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s shoes after suddenly dying in Warm Springs, Georgia, when they were mighty big shoes to fill.

Yet he managed to comfort the country who loved FDR so much they elected him to a 4th term, one he barely served. When Harry said, the buck stops here, it was about taking responsibility, not what was in his wallet.

Some called Roosevelt with his New Deal, a traitor to his class, due to his devotion to struggling Americans during the depression because he too, like our present President, had great personal wealth. The difference being, his heart stayed open till the day he was no more.

Lincoln of course had four years of the Civil War leaving him hated by some, still respected by many, staying the course best he could holding the country together with his two hands. Yes, he could have negotiated with the south during those bloody years, but chose, Liberty and Union, Now and Forever, to quote the great Daniel Webster.

He did what he felt was best for the country as did Truman, as did Roosevelt while we stood nobly behind them.

As for John F. Kennedy, if it weren’t for the delicacy of his actions during the Cuban Missile Crisis, we might not even be here. If it were to happen now, God forbid, that would pretty much be a given.

How scary is that?

Where am I going with all this long ago lore? I’m not sure, but what I am sure of is this…

the need to feel those amber waves of grain will still flourish when all this insanity is over.

I don’t feel safe with Mr. Trump at the controls, because that’s what it’s become, his way or the highway. He should be locked in meetings with his shirt sleeves rolled up till this silly standoff is settled.

We elected him because he was at the right place at the right time since, anyone would have been preferable to those political pirates, the infamous Clintons.

We were unabashedly hopeful, the way we were raised to be.

We made a mistake.

But after reading about Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John Kennedy during their trials, I feel better knowing that…

this too shall pass.  getPart.png

SB

 

 

 

 

Posted in History, Politics, readng, Uncategorized, words, writing | Tagged , , | 35 Comments

Louis Latino and Lassie of the Bronx

I’m coming back from Gristides on what I refer to as, old day, when if you’re 62 and over get 10% off all items.

So there I am with my Motts Unsweetened Apple Sauce and Cage Free Jumbo Eggs, when I see a Pitbull with a head like a regulation basket ball tied up in front of the T-Mobile store, casually stopping traffic.

He is by far, one of the handsomest dogs I have ever seen inspiring me to kneel down, my palm open in friendship he immediately licks letting me know he’s friendly too.

I also know, if he was anything but, his owner would never leave him unattended, or at least lets hope.

I peek in the store and see right away who he belongs to. A handsome 35 year-old or so Latino man with muscles that could go on tour.

So I pop in and say, “Is he yours?” He gives me what I can only call a tolerant nod.

“Well he’s really beautiful.” He ignores me.

“You don’t often see Pits that size.”

“That’s because he’s not a Pit,” he says, showing irritation.  “He’s an American Staffordshire Terrier.”

“Well, excuse my error. So he’s a Staffie then.”

“No, he’s an American Staffordshire Terrier. We don’t use nicknames.”

“Alrighty then.”

I go back out and the dog now has a crowd admiring him because you just can’t help it. His width, rivaling a calf with a face that just could make you weep, makes him s show stopper.

I pop in the store again, all mirth and merriment and ask, “Did you adopt him?”

“NO, he’s is not adopted,” he snaps, as if this was insulting, which in my book would make him heroic because now I know his clipped ears were done deliberately to show off the breed.

They do this because the breed itself is known for a particular look. Totally gets my fur up, like the animal really needs to be accessorized.

Did I mention he still had balls the size of Ring Dings?

Another sign I didn’t like because it’s better for the dog to be neutered, but of course, if you do the math, Louis Latino, a perfect name for him, now fighting with the T-mobile kid who keeps telling him there’s a store in the Bronx, would take it as a personal affront having those babies whacked off.

That said…

I am now crouched, petting Apollo, whose name is emblazoned across his studded collar in sapphire blue. There’s also a well-dressed business man and an African American woman with a ten year-old boy alongside me, charmed as can be.

Apollo could run for office, he’s that sweet, but cowers a bit when Louis Latino, his diamond earring glistening in the noontime sun comes out to say in a voice that could’a clipped those balls, “Stop pettin’ my dog. He’s just a baby and hasn’t learned certain things yet.”

Joan of Bark says, Apollo’s massive head happily resting in her lap,”What else does he need to learn? He’s polite, gentle, sweet, sits, shakes hands, besides, you can’t leave him out and expect people not to stop. He’s just too beautiful.”

“And friendly,” says the kid.

“And so big,” chimed in the woman.

“Louis snaps, “Well, he’s gonna get even bigger.” That’s when the business man, clearly smarter than the rest of us, takes off.

The kid, who is next to me on his knees petting Apollo as if he were Lassie says, “Are ya kiddin’, he’s gonna get even bigger. WOW…you should bring him to my school on show-and-tell day, cause no one’s gonna believe it when I tell’em.”

You gotta love kids.

To Louis’s credit, he smiles. So then I say, “Just so you know, me and Apollo are gonna be dating.”

Everyone laughs, but Louis, even Apollo, who seems to like the idea.  🙂   images.jpeg This is a kind of what he looked like…courtesy of Google Images

WOOF.

SB

 

Posted in animals, friendship, humanity, humor, men, New York City | Tagged , , , | 33 Comments

Weirdest Story of the Week…January 3

I’m in Starbucks courtesy of a Christmas present, happily sipping a large latte without a care in the world.

It’s early on New Years’s Day so I’m pretty much alone until…

a man sits on my right, a woman, my left. They immediately get on their phones as though they were alone in their respective kitchens.

Now manners for me are big even though I know they’re heading towards extinction like fresh air, presidential leadership and polar bears, but I suit up anyway because my Connecticut, the appropriate part I’m still proud to possess, is not going down without a fight.

I say to the man, “Could you please at least lower your voice…please?” I say this kindly, my words lacking any bite or sting.

He covers the phone, looks at me and says, “I’m sorry, just give me a minute.” In less than a minute he gets off, wonders never cease. The woman, however, whose voice could shatter the front windows, is still talking a mile a minute about some guy named Earl she had a date with who hasn’t called again.

The man turns to me and whispers, “Can you blame Earl?”

I laugh in spite of how she’s succeeding in ruining my latte experience.

Here it comes.

Now I swear to you, this guy said what he said so softly, but she clearly has ears like a hunting dog, which seems an apt description of her overall hungry, desperate, demented demeanor, and says,

“I heard that. You think I didn’t hear that? HOW RUDE!”

They then start going at it, verbally, while the staff stares, riveted like they were ringside at The Garden.

I quietly slink away, my latte, alas, all gone except for a little milky foam I’m soaking up with my index finger, feeling as if I just saw coming attractions of a really bad film, in a theater, that at least had a fairly nice coffee bar.

SB

 

Posted in Culture, humanity, humor, New York City, Starbucks | Tagged , , , | 32 Comments

Emotional Sobriety

The last time I went to the Carlyle to toast Tommy, their late bartender, after two sips I was pretty looped.

A red flag if there ever was one.

After swaying home I prayed, please God, don’t let this ignite my drinking.

You’re surprised I pray?

I live in that foxhole Hemingway wrote about, on my knees.

They say in AA, if you pray deeply enough…God, help me not drink anymore…he swoops in like an eagle taking you under his wing. Of course you must do your part like, honing your humility that when drunk goes down several quarts.

Not drinking is like cleaning your windshield. You may not like what you see, but at least it’s truthful.

One of my goals in the new year, is surrendering to truth across the board. I no longer want to pretend to be anything I’m not. Though from Connecticut, I didn’t go to a finishing school. I was raised by alcoholic wolves of Italian/Polish descent which may be too kind, since I’m sure wolves are better parents.

They threw me into a pricey prep school that was nothing but a playground for addicts and rich kids tossed from other schools, so I learned from the best how to stay high on anything from glue to pot to Taittingers.

So Miss Connecticut I was not.

I became a model because, after convincing me I was too stupid to be anything else, it was the only way to get my mother’s approval since looks were all she cared about. She loved telling people I was a Wilhelmina model boogalooing across the globe.

Of course, I was like a feral cat in model’s clothing, missing planes, busy sleeping off blinding benders waking up to some disco boy whose name I didn’t catch. Not too good for business. But my mother, who had sex for lunch, was my first role model, pun intended, teaching me everything I know.

It’s how you get attention, even if it only lasts 10 minutes. Now I want it from my writing I falsely sanitize so you’ll like me. I’m going to stop doing that, and it may not be pretty.

So I advise you to buckle up.

I’m 64 years old with lines on my face and half my hearing gone. I haven’t gotten laid in so long, I’m not even sure my parts still work. I’m alone, and it’s okay, since I’ve had more sex and romance than anyone else I know, including my mother.

But like any athlete, I finally hung up my number.

Everything ends after all. Even love, true or otherwise.

But I have memories and the clarity to write about them.

So you see, despite how it may seem, my blessings are still up a quart.

To thine own self be true, my mantra for 2019.

Happy New Year everyone.

To quote the great Anne Lamott…

And God bless you all good.

SB

Posted in alcohol, creative writing, Culture, humanity, inspiration, modeling, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 76 Comments

Best Story of the Week…December 27

It’s Christmas Eve. I’m standing on the corner across from Whole Foods deciding if I have the tolerance to go in or not, knowing, it will be crawling with cooks and guests of theirs bringing dessert.

I think, perhaps my modest needs can wait.

Already missing three green lights, a construction worker, the type you could see running out of a burning building with a kid under each arm, has been standing near me eating a variety of edibles. A big guy in coveralls with a hardhat strapped to his waist, it’s as if he has an endless buffet set up in those massive, industrial pockets. After a sandwich, some type of cheese and an apple that crunches like an axe, he pulls out a lavish pastry.

I guess I’m staring because he stops, displaying dimples that I can swear, wink, and says, “Wanna split it?”

I’m rarely at a loss for words nor surprised at anything that I encounter, but he had me, as I burst out laughing and say, “It’s okay. You’re obviously very hungry.”

And he says, “Nah, it’s just a snack.”  🙂

SB

Posted in Culture, food, humanity, humor, New York City, writing | Tagged , , | 41 Comments