A Connecticut Christmas

I’ve just turned 4, as I sneak a peek at our tree, already suspecting Santa is really my mother, because why else would she be putting stuff under it in her nightgown.

I may be short, but I’m not stupid.

Either that or she’s kissing a coupla elves under that thing hanging from the ceiling she made my dad put up, or maybe even the fat man himself.

We all know how she loves a man in uniform.

Of course I’m supposed to be in bed with sugar plums dancing in my head, not spying, but I want to make sure nobody swipes the cookies I left since I’m told, over and over, that Santa, from carrying that sack, works up a mighty big appetite.

My mom, I think, could do a little better snack wise. When I ask, why just Oreos and not a little Spaghetti Marinara, she says, Santa’s on a diet, since last year it was hard for him to zip up his suit.

Now how would she know that if she wasn’t, you know, having a secret Christmas canoodle?

After skedaddling back to bed, I ask Fluffy, my cat, what she thinks. She pats me with her paw and gives me one of those reassuring, purring smiles that tells me to relax, and stop worrying.

The next morning, when I run into the living room and see Patti Playpal images-2.jpeg next to a new pair of Keds,   I decide Fluff, as usual, was right.

I then check on the cookies that are all gone, and look at my mother wearing her L.L. Bean reindeer apron and think, well, if she ate them instead of Santa, I guess that’s okay. After all, his helpers, no matter who they are, get hungry too.      6465778149_dc3d343f32_b.jpg

Little SB

Posted in animals, Connecticut, creative writing, Family, Home, humor, kids, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 55 Comments

Impeaches and Cream

The only thing President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment did for me, was ignite my history, since he now shares the Big Kahuna of congressional admonishments with two other men: Andrew Johnson, Unknown-1.jpeg our 17th President by default, and William Jefferson Clinton, Unknown-2.jpeg number 42, by blow job…forgive my urbanese but what do you call it exactly, a big boo-boo?

I’ll say.

Andrew Johnson’s (no relation to Lyndon though they had succession through assassination in common), firing his Secretary of War without consulting Congress, deserves more understanding considering the state he was in.

He was Lincoln’s Vice-President for ten minutes when Abe got the big bang, making him his successor. Lincoln had replaced Hannibal Hamlin as V.P. hoping a southern sympathizer to the union cause, would help get him reelected, which looked unlikely for a time.

Now here’s where Johnson went slightly off the rails. He found out he was on John Wilkes Booth’s hit list, but George Atzerodt, who was given the job of axing Andy, got cold feet, making it as far as the door of Johnson’s rooming house before running away.

He believed everyone after that was a co-conspirator of Booth’s, including Edwin Stanton, Abe’s formidable Secretary of War. Many believe, including Bill O’Reilly, in his book, Killing Lincoln (2011), that he was a party to the assassination.

Hence…YOU’RE FIRED EDDIE.

So, in the end, the Senate voted to acquit Johnson by a margin of 35 guilty to 19 not guilty – one vote shy of the two-thirds needed to convict, which I suspect will happen to Mr. Trump.

As for Mr. Bill who was charged with High Crimes and Misdemeanors, that sounds like a Milton Bradley game (Perjury and Obstruction of Justice) for making oral history in the Oval with an intern, was also let go like a naughty school boy.

All 45 Democrats in the Senate voted “not guilty” on both charges, as did five Republicans; they were joined by five additional Republicans in voting “not guilty” on the perjury charge.

It’s kind of like standing in the corner with gum on your nose…by recess, it’s all pretty much forgotten, unless of course your cohort got slandered, like Monica, who the Clintons did everything short of putting a hit out on her to get her to swing from her shower rod.

Johnson had a field day executing four prisoners  including Atzerodt and Mary Suratt, who owned the boarding house Booth and his men frequented, including Mary’s son, John, who, unlike his colleagues, managed to escape, not returning even knowing he’d help his mother’s cause, making her the very first woman executed in our country, and the last, by hanging

Just imagine, all this occurred without one Tweet.

If I had one wish it would have been to save Mary from the gallows since imprisonment would have sufficed, and that our present CAPITOL nonsense would cease.

What happened to…and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth?

Have you seen it anywhere?   images.jpeg

SB

 

Posted in Books, Culture, History, humanity, internet, media, Politics, violence, war, words, writing | Tagged , , , | 54 Comments

Best Story of the Week…December 20th

Is someone knocking? With my hearing the way it is, one never knows.

Yes, there is, as I pad to the door.

Without my glasses I can’t quite make out who it is from the peep hole, so I call out…who’s there?

No answer.

Uh-oh. Is it a doorman with a baseball bat because I didn’t tip him enough for Christmas?

Hey, it’s the Stephen King in me.

I slowly open the door with the chain on and don’t see anybody, but then look down.

It’s little Mitch, from 6, a 4 year-old who loves to bake, clutching a wrapped package I’m guessing are cookies.

It’s not unusual to meet him and his nanny on the elevator with a smudge of flour on his nose.

“Oh Mitch, forgive me,” I say, “I didn’t know it was you. Didn’t you hear me calling?”

(here it comes)

“Yeah, but my mom says, don’t talk to strangers.”

This struck me funny. “But I’m not a stranger.”

“But it didn’t sound like you.”

It takes a second, but I figure it out.

I have a major head cold, and do sound a little like Lauren Bacall with a touch of Bogie tossed in.

Ya gotta love kids.

SB           images-4.jpg

 

Posted in Culture, dessert, Family, food, friendship, humanity, humor, kids, New York City, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 40 Comments

There Will Be No Christmas This Year

Christmas is on a stretcher.

The message seems to be…WHO CARES, something I find rather mystifying.

Maybe it’s the Connecticut in me, but I suit up every year, whether in the mood or not.

We must make the effort to be merry.

Who said why?

Because what’s the alternative? To just totally give up, even on Christmas?

I say nay.

Nay…listen to me. It’s all this impeachment business. Now I’m about to vote on the Senate floor with Nancy, who I so wish would change those pants.

It’s a nightmare, all of it, and I don’t say that out of sympathy for our Commander-in-Chief. I say it because, a lavish slap on the wrist won’t keep him from getting reelected. It’s like bad theater, or an exhibition game with all the players on steroids, yet it’s still selling out.

If P.T. Barnum were here he’d be hawking tickets in front of the Capitol.

He sure wasn’t kidding when he said, ‘There’s a sucker born every minute.’

I’ll say.

And it’s interfering with Christmas since Santa won’t leave Twitter long enough to hop in his sleigh, along with those lazy elves, who are more than happy to get fat collecting unemployment.

No one has even bothered to send cards.

Me?

Dozens.

Why?

It might make you feel a little cheerier?

Happy to be remembered?

Oh shit…just call me crazy.

I’ve gotten two. One from a girl who’s known me 20 years who spelled my name wrong, and another from the Gap, who spelled it right. What does that tell you?

I then went to help decorate a church’s tree, an annual event I look forward to, and left wanting to jump in front of a car. No one but me and an old lady who couldn’t see well showed up to help. Normally there’s a nice buffet with bagels and hot coffee. Instead there was a tin of cheap cookies you get with a full tank of gas, if you’re lucky enough to fill your tank in Jersey.

I’m not a fan of heights so seeing me on a ladder attempting to hang lights had a Hitchcockian feel to it.

Think Janet Leigh in the shower,  Unknown-2.jpeg just in a turtleneck.

The highlight was when the in-house pastor’s French Bulldog ran in and proceeded to eat an ornament.

See, this is what happens when you’re expecting bagels with that holiday schmear.

I will admit, I too had a moment of Scroogeism when I had to tip all the building workers, circling like sharks for those extorted envelopes, but even then I rallied, writing little notes I so wanted to dip in Anthrax, but didn’t.

My suggestion is, deck those fucking halls, even if it kills you.

WHO SAID NAY?

SBunnamed.gif

 

Posted in animals, Culture, food, humanity, humor, internet, New York City, Politics, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 68 Comments

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Bill Hicks

Today would have been Bill Hicks’s 58th birthday.

Since he died at 32, it means he’s missed 26, which adds up to an awful lot of missed cake.

I remember what a sweet tooth he had and how, whenever I’d visit him on the road, I’d always have a dozen Dunkin’ Donuts on hand.

After a while, he came to expect them, like I was his designated doughnut dealer.

Other than that, he had pretty much cleaned up his act, so to speak, no longer smoking or drinking, proud of his first AA coin. He even took up yoga while living in L.A., or Hell-A, as he called Los Angeles.

I was in such awe of this, his ability to change habits he had for so long, but despite all that, God, as we know, had another plan for Bill.

When I think of all the creeps in comedy still crawling around, it does make one question the Great Creator’s judgment, leaving them, taking Hicks, so I’ve decided, that’s proof enough there has to be something more.

Ironically, the film, Defending Your Life, about what happens in the afterlife, was a favorite of his. He loved how the Meryl Streep character because of her good works on earth, got the better hotel, and Albert Brooks, whose were down a quart, a cheaper one.

He howled at that.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for him as he spent his last days at his parent’s home in Little Rock, knowing he was checking out, but what I do know is this…

he was kind and loving, giving and noble in all things, so I’m guessing as I write this…

Bill, is at the Ritz.

Happy Birthday Willie. 

Miss you. 

Love, Susannah

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr Bill Hicks.

Posted in comedy, grace, humanity, inspiration, Love, men, words, writing | Tagged , | 37 Comments

A Heart Pried Open

It’s not easy being sensitive.

There isn’t a homeless person that escapes my notice, a blind man I don’t see, or a stray cat under a car wishing I could coax home, so it’s no surprise I spotted Andy.

There’s an AA meeting I attend right out of a Steinbeck novel. The still sick and suffering, as down and out drinkers are often called, line the back just to have a safe place where they won’t be asked to leave.

They creep in like mice, clutching a free cup of coffee shyly gleaned from the hospitality table.

Their plight takes your humility out for a spin, which brings me back to Andy.

An ageless, massive man of color, in black sweats and a blinding white T-shirt with a gray hoodie tied to his waist. He’s never without two well stocked duffels neatly packed I imagine holding his few belongings.

The difference between Andy and his brethren is, he’s been sober for 22 years.

He doesn’t participate, rarely raising his hand, seated quietly in the far corner. He asks for nothing, will help put chairs away before disappearing into the wilds of the city.

Is he homeless? Sheltered? Which means, every night he goes to a different one looking for an empty bed. A proud man, who lets you know the way he walks with military bearing, pride means the world.

There’s something about Andy that instills something in me, feeling better when he’s in the room, so when a week went by and I didn’t see him, it concerned me.

After getting an unexpected check that put some extra money in my pocket, I thought I’d share it with some of these men who need a helping hand.

Deciding against cash, I thought better to give Starbucks cards where they could get coffee and have a warm place to be, but the day I showed up, no one was there, except for Andy. There he was in his usual place looking his noble self.

I realized he was the one I really wanted to give something to, but how was I to get him to accept a gift that wasn’t charity, but a true gift of the heart.

I said a prayer, asking God to give me the right words so not to insult him.

At the end of the meeting, I padded over and said, “Hi Andy, I’m really happy to see you.” He nodded, his big brown eyes filled with warmth.

Then the words came.

“Andy, I need you to do me a favor.” He nodded again, letting me know, he’d help if he could.

“I’ve been very worried about you, that you might be cold somewhere, so I’d like to give this to you,” pulling out one of the cards.

“You’d do me such a grace by taking it, so I know, you’ll have a place to go if you need it.”

There was silence as if every sound in the world was turned off. It was then I remembered the bible passage from Mathew…

I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.

I’m not a big Bible reader, but always loved that. You just do what you can, tenderly and sincerely.

Andy finally said, “I don’t care much for Starbucks coffee.”

“But they have other things Andy. Tea, hot chocolate, orange juice, and cake.”

“Cake?” I watched his little boy came out, as he gently took the card from my hand.

“Thank you kindly,” he said.

“No Andy, thank you,” I answered, before ducking into the ladies room for a quick cry.

I can’t say how happy I was that he accepted something so small that could make such a big difference on a cold winter’s day.

I then counted my blessings, including knowing Andy, as I made my way home.   Unknown-1.jpeg

Susannah

 

 

Posted in alcohol, Faith, food, grace, humanity, inspiration, Love, New York City, Starbucks, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 49 Comments

Babar On The Bus

I love to see little kids reading, a rare sight these days, so spotting one on the crosstown bus got my attention.

This little guy was around 4, with his nanny who held him and his book in her cushy lap as if he were her own.

You don’t see that much around here, babysitters who care. Instead, they phone it in while on their phone, no pun intended.

But not this lady, who read Babar And The New Baby  images.jpeg  and you know, not for the first time.

When she saw me looking she laughed. “He so loves this story,” she said, in some kind of islandese. “He’s going to have a new brother or sister, so he’s very excited.”

So was I at that point as he nudged her to stop talking so they could read some more.

He was such a passionate reader for such a little boy.

It sure made this big reader’s day, and then some.  images-1.jpeg

 SB

Posted in Books, Culture, humor, inspiration, kids, Love, New York City, words, writing | Tagged , , , | 44 Comments

A Patriot Without a President

So, Michael Bloomberg, to quote Teddy, is tossing his hat in the ring, and I for one am glad.

He was my neighbor for many years before and after he became Mayor of New York, so I got to observe Mike, up close and personal.

I liked how he went into the Nectar Coffee Shop same as every day before elected to get his own coffee, leaving his security detail outside. He knew the cook and waiters by name, and tipped appropriately, never flaunting his wealth.

He helped a lot after September 11th, opening up office space for what was left of Cantor Fitzgerald who lost 658 workers, 68% of its workforce, and did it quietly.

When a young man working in the neighborhood was killed during a random robbery, a memorial fund for aspiring writers was set up in Nick’s name. If it didn’t meet its annual quota, Mr. Bloomberg always made up the difference.

He underwrote a little mom and pop shop whose landlord tripled their rent they could ill afford after losing all their retirement savings during the financial crisis. They never knew it was him, but some of us did.

When Pat, the local window washer, was fatally struck by a car, Mike held a little service in Central Park where he memorialized Pat with his name on his favorite bench. We had Pepsi, pretzels and donuts, because it was Pat’s favorite fare.

They say God is in the details, and I’d say Mr. Bloomberg is his ardent representative.

Unlike our present president, he extends himself to others without boast nor swagger, swapping them for kindness and humility.

Which brings me to why Mr. Bloomberg decided to run. He said, Donald Trump is simply not fit for the office that he holds and represents an unprecedented threat to our nation.

That statement was enough for me since, not as politically articulate as my former Mayor, I think Trump treats the Oval more like a squash court, having no respect for his predecessors.

Teddy sat there, and FDR, and who could forget JFK’s iconic remark during the 1962 dinner honoring Noble Prize Winners...I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent of human knowledge at the White House, with the possible exception of when Jefferson dined alone.

Occupying that space is a grace and a privilege, and the person who sits behind that noble desk, is there strictly for us.

It’s not about you Mr. Trump.

When they asked John Quincy Adams, our 6th President, son of John, our 2nd, after he went back into the House of Representatives, the only president to do so, what party he belonged to, Mr. Adams said…

I belong to no party. I represent the people.

Michael Bloomberg isn’t perfect, because no one is, but I’ll gladly toss my hat in the ring next to his, over another four years of embarrassing leadership come this November.

 Long may she wave…NO MATTER WHAT!  images-1.jpeg

SB

 

 

 

Posted in Culture, Faith, grace, History, humanity, inspiration, internet, media, money, New York City, Politics, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 34 Comments

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Ike.

It’s still dark entering the Park, when I see an array of lights darting against the predawn sky. As I get closer, I see it’s a Pitbull with a collar made up of Christmas lights.

Ike is his name belonging to a Vietnam Vet, named Billy, who found him on the Lower East Side apparently in great need of care.

As Ike does relays back and forth, my smile gets bigger and bigger. He reminds me of being a kid going to my Auntie Ida’s house on Christmas Eve, passing all the homes with twinkle lights twined around their porches and windows.

It was my favorite part of the trip…greens and blues, reds and yellows lighting the way pretending from our ice blue Chevy Impala, to be Wendy in Peter Pan.

The dog, at his master’s gentle request, come’s over, panting, so we could be properly introduced.

Billy says, “Ike, what do we do when we meet a lady?”

As the light was just beginning to change, a runner or two in our midst, Ike politely sits down to give me his mighty paw.

“Such a grip,” I say to Billy, “and I don’t mind telling you, I’ve always been a sucker for a gentleman.”

When I then say, how noble it was that he rescued Ike, he says, “No, you got it backwards,” stroking Ike’s head tenderly…

“Ike here, he rescued me.”  Unknown-2.jpeg

SB

 

 

Posted in animals, Culture, humanity, humor, inspiration, Love, men, nature, New York City, war | Tagged , , , , , | 95 Comments

A Writer Brought Back To Life

Pete Hamill is someone I’ve revered forever as a journalist, New York historian, novelist and screenwriter, concerned about him since he’s been silent for much too long.

Knowing he’s the last of his breed, Jack Newfield (1938-2004), Norman Mailer (1923-2007), and Jimmy Breslin (1928-2017) all gone, I assumed he was the next to go.

But I’m happy to say I was wrong, after reading how at 84, he’s moved back to Brooklyn, the borough of his youth, to pen one last book.

They don’t make the likes of Pete anymore, that blue collar writer who was present for every triumph and tragedy the country has endured.

He stood next to his friend, Bobby Kennedy, in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel moments after he was fatally shot.

He covered Vietnam, Nicaragua and Northern Ireland.

His journalism career spans 40 years at the New York Post, Daily News, the Village Voice and New York Newsday earning him the name, the Tabloid Poet.

His memoir, A Drinking Life (1994), takes you on a drunk’s tour regaling a tale only Pete could so poignantly tell after quitting cold turkey in 1972.

My favorite could be,Why Sinatra Matters (1998), opening at the legendary P.J. Clarke’s Saloon, while Sinatra holds court as he croons from the jukebox, in the company of some of the best newspaper men of our time.

His prose, clean and clear, makes you hear the ice tinkling in their glasses amid the swell of cigarette smoke you can practically smell.

I was lucky enough to meet him once downtown after reading, for the second time, his book of the same name…Downtown: My Manhattan (2004). 

It was like waking from a dream, after telling someone you’ve always admired how much they’ve meant to you.

He was kind and humble, patient with my girlish gush, feeling like a teenager meeting Elvis.

My heart is full writing this, very elated that my Elvis, my Lancelot of verse, has yet to leave the building.   220px-Pete_Hamill_by_David_Shankbone.jpg

This is a great piece called, Ain’t Done yet, I highly recommend.

 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/26/style/pete-hamill-brooklyn-book.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share      

SB       

Posted in alcohol, Books, creative writing, Culture, History, humanity, media, New York City, Politics, war, words, writing | Tagged , , , | 45 Comments