Bibliophile

A bibliophile is someone who collects books.

Guilty as charged.

It’s no secret I love to read.  To disappear into a tale, true or fictional, is the best medicine there is, and it’s over-the-counter, besides.

I’ve just finished Meryl Gordon’s new bio, Bunny Mellon: The Life of an American Style Legend, I didn’t want to end.   

Married to the Pittsburgh banking heir and philanthropist, Paul Mellon, who sired The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., and Jackie Kennedy’s best friend, not to mention one of the most  talented garden designers and horticulturalists the world has ever seen, Rachel Lowe Lambert Lloyd Mellon, known as Bunny, was a force of nature, she completely, unabashedly, immersed herself in.

Upon JFK’s request, she renovated the famous White House Rose Garden that still exists today.

Sadly, not long after, she arranged the flowers for his funeral, as well as his brother Bobby’s, five years later.

When Jackie Kennedy, 19 years her junior, lay dying in 1994, she was the only one besides John, Caroline and Maurice Templesman, Jackie’s longtime beau, who sat vigil at her bedside.

So moved by this book, I walked to her former townhouse at 125 East 70th Street, standing in front, thinking about this amazing woman who died in 2014 at the age of 103, with her mind still so intact, she asked that her bedroom window be opened so, as she passed on, she’d be that much nearer to nature.

After leaving her house, I went and bought myself a spray of freesia that still grace my table, along with white roses for my nightstand, donning a blue scarf because blue, was Bunny’s favorite color.

I looked around at my shabby-chic decor smiling because, Bunny too, liked old, worn-out things.  She said, if a room is too perfectly done, no one is really comfortable in it.  Of course, she and Mr. Mellon were avid art collectors, so Cezannes and Diebenkorns, Turners and Rothkos lined the walls of their many homes, but it gave a boost to my own aesthetic, knowing, if Mrs. Mellon were to stop by, she’d like the place.   

🙂

SB

 

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Posted in Beauty, Books, Fashion, friendship, grace, Health, History, humanity, nature, Politics, Women and men, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Hicks 56

I write a homage to the late Bill Hicks twice a year…February 26, the day he took flight, and on his birthday, which is today, normally with great cheer.

Recently, on three occasions, readers questioned the validity of my relationship with Bill, because I’m nowhere mentioned in any of the write-ups about his life.

After regaining myself, feeling terrible to be doubted over something that is so deeply personal, my friend, Chris Mazzilli, who knew us both, persuaded me to write anyway…

even suggesting I post one of Bill’s letters, as evidence.

Well, there’s no way I’m defending myself by sharing his letters, that after 23 years, still mean the world to me.

Despite my 1,688 essays on this blog, I’m a very private person, and alongside him, laid, all that was us, to rest, which doesn’t mean not lovingly writing about him, choosing what is my right to reveal.

I will say, when he died, a part of me did to.  Unlike others, I didn’t feel the need to crow to the world who I was to him, and who he will always be to me.

He was gone, and though, even now, still feeling his presence, there was, and is, no point self-aggrandizing myself through our love affair.

Death is a strange phenomenon, especially when it careens out of nowhere, instilling a depth of grief that changes you forever.  My innocence was no longer…a young girl’s dream of everlasting happiness, dulled, happily ever after, no longer an option.

I’m stunned at the temerity of people who feel it’s their right to know things that have nothing to do with them.

If Bill were here, he’d be amazed too, soothing me in his Texas twang, smiling at my eternal sensitivity…fuck-em all darlin, he’d say, it doesn’t much matter what they think.

I smile at the thought of that…despite the rough parlance, probably the purest gentleman I’ve ever known, who always took excellent care of me.

I’ll forever remember how he walked on the curbside, and held my hand crossing the street.

William Melvin Hicks would have been 56 years-old today.

Happy Birthday Willie, wherever you are.

I miss you.

Love, Susannah

 

 

Posted in comedy, grace, humanity, humor, internet, Love, Women and men, words, writing | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Gun To Your Head Giving

 Perhaps I live in Oz, but I give strictly from the heart, so when the annual list of building workers is shoved under my door with how many years of service they’ve put in, my wallet and I wince.

Not very Pollyanna-ish, I know, but hear me out.

I never had doormen before, living in an apartment pretty much abandoned by its owner, so gun-to-your-head giving is new to me, and it’s not as if I’m not my kind, generous self on a regular basis, because I am.

I buy coffee for them.  Make it late at night for the midnight to eight man, feeling for him down in that drafty doorway.  I even bought them a heater.

My point is, now I HAVE TO GIVE them cash, and frankly, I’m resentful.

I’m not a cash giv’in kinda gal. It’s cold and impersonal, along with having zip to do with Christmas. Where does it say Santa handed out 50s as he slid down the chimney?

These entitled men remind me of sharks circling a pool.  My super, who as a friend said, farts and you have to pay him, is a very ungracious sort of person.  Never says thank you while acting as if he’s always doing you a great, big favor.  He doesn’t want random acts of kindness, like the heating pad I bought him when he hurt his shoulder falling off a ladder, or the brand new rug that was too big for my living room that now graces his.  And the 20s one gives him throughout the year apparently don’t count.

No, he and his merry men want cold cash, now.

Think Jesse James, with tools.

I will comply, but with a very empty heart reminding me that, without grace, it doesn’t much matter what you give since obligation replaces love that alas, is conspicuously absent.

See, if it were left to me, they’d all get cookies, scarves and warm socks, not envelopes, but that’s just little, ole Connecticut me, dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh, so to speak…in a twinset of course.

Sigh.     

SB

Posted in money, Women and men | Tagged , , , | 39 Comments

Bah Humbuggy

No, that’s not a typo, it’s a rewrite.

The holidays are upon us, and there’s nothing we can do about it, so to quote those great philosophers, The Three Stooges, if you can’t beat-em, join-em.

I seem to irritate people with my good cheer.  Just to make it clear, I cry every morning when I wake up.  Not just a tear or two either, I mean weep, like the little girl in all of us, and that includes you Mick.

And yes, when the Salvation Army woman with her big bell was on my corner before Thanksgiving, I so wanted to slug her, but knew, she had a sister waiting in the wings with an even bigger one.

Christmas is bigger than all pf us, that’s why, I’ve made the decision to act as if.  To act as if I’m happy and loved though neither is true…flush and free of strife, looking happily forward to a new year.

Would you rather see Pollyanna drunk, slumped in a corner?

Alas, some bah humbugs surely would, but I say, bah humbuggy..too bad…as she packs her sleigh full of scotch, I mean, mirth, and good cheer.

And fuck you, and the reindeer you rode in on, if you can’t take a joke.   

SB

Posted in Faith, grace, Gratitude, humanity, humor, New York City | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

A Dull Utterance

A friend or foe, depending how you take it, said my daily utterances, as they put it, have become a tad dull.

Excuse me, while I slip my head in the oven.

They miss my monthly Carlyle pieces, and I do too, but since I’m barely drinking these days, tea on the rocks just hasn’t the same oomph.

I write what flares in front of me, whatever that may be.

For instance, I’m presently in Starbucks, with the sweetest, little Latino couple sitting  across from me, quietly holding hands.

I could pen pages on this, the old-fashioned innocence, simplicity and peaceful, gentle affection they clearly share, all from a sly glance.

Hemingway said, write what you know.

What I know, is what’s put in front of me.  So there.

SB

Posted in alcohol, humanity, Love, New York City, sexual relationships, Starbucks, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

God’s Girls

I received such nice comments on my Pollyanna piece, making me glad I wrote it, after almost deleting it because it was so, you know, Pollyanna-ish.

Has had me thinking about the three Gs.

Grace, Gratitude, and Generosity…the three places I try to live in, especially when life takes a bumpy turn.

To remind yourself of the good that will battle the bad is a wonderful state to stay in.

Not easy, but worth the attempt.

Wonder who I’m channeling. Gandhi maybe, who

said, “We must become the change we want to see?”

Or Ralph Waldo Emerson suggesting, be silly, be honest, be kind.

And Anne Lamott, another one of God’s girls, admitting,

I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.

All advice at least, worth considering.

A good habit is as easy to develop as a bad one.  To catch yourself in the middle of woe is me, is easily done if you develop even an iota of consciousness.

I had a terrible day yesterday filled with angst and disappointment leaving me in tears, yet pressed on, just the same.  Hating to admit this, but I get it from my mother who kept going no matter what.

Like the toy soldiers in Laurel and Hardy’s, March of the Wooden Soldiers, who kept marching, even without their heads.

That’s me.

There was an old man standing on the curb with two canes looking lost and bewildered.  He was waiting for a cab that of course wouldn’t stop because he couldn’t raise his arm to flag it down.

While Grace showed her pretty head, I helped him, but not as much as he helped me. There I was, in full stride, while he, doing the best he could, was having a hard time just getting home.

She does that, that Grace, humbling you quietly.

There was the kid at the Gap, with only one arm, folding sweaters, and the mother of 4 with another on the way asking for help.  Imagine all those mouths to feed, including her own, reminding me of all the food I had in my refrigerator.

I went home, wept one more time for good measure, before Grace and Gratitude, along with Generosity came a’callin, reminding me how lucky I am, despite life’s unexpected twists.

I then, put on a fresh nighty, climbed into a clean bed with my book, while all three dozed peacefully beside me.

SB

 

 

 

 

Posted in Faith, grace, Gratitude, humanity, Love, New York City | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

Best Story of the Week

There I am, en route to the ATM, my checking account, due to the season, on life support, trying so hard to mind my own business, when, in my hawklike eyeline, what do I see?

A mother yelling at her little girl.

I whisper to myself…Susannah keep going…JUST KEEP GOING…BUT…

that little face, stops me in my tracks.

She’s 5 or 6, in a little red, plaid dress and white tights, Mary Janes on her teeny feet, the same way my mother dressed me.

Alright God, what are you up to now, you little prankster? to quote Anne Lamott.

You see, when I was her age, no one ever cared when I cried either, and as I see it, it’s the only way a child that small can communicate, through her tears, her language till she’s graced with words.

So, a strange calm comes over me (boy was mom lucky), and stop (like you didn’t know that), smile and say in the softest of tones, as if I were channeling Mary…

“You know, I wasn’t lucky enough to have children, let alone a sweet little girl like yours…(who stops crying by the way…yes, honey, your, though nuttier than a fruitcake, fairy godmother is here, have no fear), so for me, and women like me…have patience with her…she’s just little, and we were little once too.”

Now before she could hit me, I run away.  Just take off down Park, like a shot.  I’m no fool.

Cut to…15 minutes later.

The doorman on that corner I see most mornings calls out to me,” What did you say to that lady?”

“Why? Did she hit her kid?” I say, horrified.

“No, she hugged her, then started to cry.”

Guess who starts to cry then?

The doorman says, “What’s goin on.  All you women are cryin?”

“Oh ya know how it is,” I say, “tis the season after all.”

Thank Heaven for Little Girls
Each time I see a little girl
Of five or six or seven
I can’t resist a joyous urge
To smile and say
Thank heaven for little girls
For little girls get
Bigger every day
Thank heaven for little girls
They grow up in
The most delightful way.
Those little eyes
So helpless and appealing
When they were flashing
Send you crashing
Through the ceiling
Thank heaven…      

SB

 

Posted in Faith, Family, grace, humanity, humor, kids, New York City, parents, women, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

As The Crow Flies

 This morning, as I made my way through the park, I was suddenly accompanied by a good, 50 crows.

They flew overhead like an all black squadron, going back and forth as if they were doing relays.

And how quiet they were in their perfect formation, making me wonder, why they were there at 6:30 a.m. on a not-so-c0ld, December day.

Were they having a meeting, trying to decide where to go?  North?  South?  To their country house in the Caribbean?

I couldn’t help feeling sorry for them, remembering that global warming is not just an Al Gore soundbite…it’s very real, and happening right now, while we act as if it doesn’t matter.

Nature, along with myself, will beg to differ on that score.

If The World Wildlife Fund sends me one more picture of a polar bear sitting on an ice cube, I’m going to pull out my hard drive.

I don’t know what to do besides recycling trash and sending checks, but maybe I need to crow about it, just a little more often, as one flies, so to speak… or 50.

 SB

 

Posted in animals, Beauty, grace, humanity, nature, New York City | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

Uncouth Youth

Just when you think, you’ve seen everything.

I’m standing in the express line at Whole Foods.  There’s a teenager, all of 15, in front of me, and a very old man with a cane, in front of her.

I see her impatience growing as he fumbles with his wallet to pay for his bag of oranges.

She’s looking at her watch, manning her phone with NASA like vigilance, when suddenly, she pushes the man, aside, like a bag of old clothes.

“Can I just pay for my coffee, please?” she says sharply to the cashier, who’s waiting, patiently, for the old man to get it together.

So shocked by what I saw, I couldn’t speak, but two young boys behind me had no such problem.

“What the fuck?” Who are you to do that?” said one, a muffin in his hand I thought he might hit her with.

She, in her Upper East Side smugness, ignored him, as she counted out exact change.

Now, the old man, having no idea he was just so shamelessly shunned said, “Oh, I’m not that steady on my feet these days,” when he stumbled, looking as if he might fall.

The other young man, who grabbed him said, “It’s okay sir, do you need help getting a taxi or just, getting out?”

“A taxi?  On such a beautiful day…no, I’ll walk, even if it takes a while, but thank you for offering.”

His obliviousness of the way he was treated laced with good cheer, made you want to weep.

Meanwhile, as the little entitled bitch, dressed her coffee, young man number one said, “I know you, you’re in Mr. Glicker’s class, and wait till I get to school to tell him.  I’m ashamed to even know your face.”

I’m quoting word for word after scribbling it all on a napkin.

And how impressive, her redress came from her peers.

Who said chivalry was dead?  It’s not, it was last seen at Whole Foods on 87th and Third looking spiffy on two young high school lads, whose parents, clearly, raised them right.

And just when you think, you’ve seen everything.

sigh

SB

 

Posted in Family, grace, humanity, kids, New York City, parents | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

Pollyanna…Shot Through the Heart

 For those of you who may not know, Pollyanna, the heroine in Eleanor H. Porter’s 1913 classic children’s book of the same name, is code for optimism.

A Pollyanna is someone always opting for sunshine, rather than clouds.

Definitely a honed skill.

It can be challenging looking for that silver lining, especially while being pelted with stones by your contempories, who would rather sink into the abyss while you smile, handing out party favors.

Even Abraham Lincoln, known for his melancholy said, we are as happy as we make up our minds to be, so Polly, though annoying to some, was and is, always on the right track, even if her peers would like to tie her to it, waiting for that train.

In other words, I always try to look at the good since, hope does spring eternal.

It’s not just a rumor.

It’s like flipping on your headlights, instead of driving in the dark, a no-brainer, making you wonder why there’s so much opposition.

My good cheer was questioned recently by someone who may be dating Lucifer for all I know, their sole interest only in themselves, telling me how annoying I am being chronically kind.  At the time, I was reading a book on Princess Diana who too was loathed for her endless supply of empathy, in her case, by the Royal Family, and apparently used to cry over it.

I also took the criticism to heart, not really considering the source.  All I heard was, you still can’t get it right Susannah, now can you?  So after a long muse on Diana’s in-laws, her warmth obviously threatening their chill, I’ve decided to adopt that theory as well.

I firmly believe, and I’m no heroine like the true Pollyanna, but if we were more like her, and Diana, Princess of Wales, the world would be in much better shape.

As of now, in the spirit of both women, one fictional, one true, my heart will remain open, despite being shot full of holes.   

SB

Posted in Books, Faith, grace, humanity, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 36 Comments