You Kan Change The World

It was around supper time on Valentine’s Day, when I opened my door to a folded heart stuck in one of my sneakers. I always take them off before coming in, serving as a handy mailbox.

It was from the little girl across the hall.

All of 5 cute as can be, I wrote about her as Emily Earheart.

This heart was perfectly made creased just right, so when it unfurled, well, let’s just say it was heartfelt.

I was sad on February 14th, missing my friend Liz who died three weeks ago. We always, for 30 years, exchanged cards so her absence left a hole I wasn’t quite prepared for.

I cried and cried, my aching heart needing a tender tutorial.

And it came by way of a 5 year-old mystic who knew much more than I.



Posted in Beauty, friendship, grace, Gratitude, humanity, humor, kids, Love, words, writing | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments


My grandfather, Bartholomew Palvario, known as Pop, was my biggest role model when it comes to giving.

I’ve written about it.

How when I was so small, watching him rake leaves, shovel snow and bake bread not only for his family, but for the whole neighborhood deliriously happy to just give.

I’ve been struggling a lot with people who can’t accept generosity without lashing out in some way.

I had a particularly disturbing encounter with a fella I know who said my constant thoughtfulness was boring the shit out of him…a direct quote.

It bothered me so much, I got up, excused myself and left the restaurant. I went home, took a tearful bath before shutting off the phone knowing this person would more than likely call to apologize.

After crying myself to sleep, my nightlight suddenly went on in the bathroom. When I opened my eyes my grandfather in his long white apron, the baker that he was, stood at the foot of my bed.

I sat up rubbing my eyes. “Pop, is that you?”

He smiled before evaporating like steam.

It was only then the nightlight that only stays on if you’re in it’s vicinity went out.

Was it real? Did I dream it? Was it the half of Valium I took to calm my nerves? All I know is my upset, like steam, evaporated, telling me all was well in my world.


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When Love Has The Last Say

In the park this morning I met a Beagle named Mike, who triggered a memory.

I couldn’t have been more than 10 when it happened, so my clarity impresses even me.

There was a family on our block, The Greenfields, who had a son named Ethan.

Ethan was barely 3 when diagnosed with leukemia. Despite his illness he was a happy boy whose dad would take him walking, circling the block, often carrying him when he grew tired.

For Ethan’s 4th birthday he was given a Beagle puppy he named Amit, meaning friend, in Hebrew.

The Greenfields were strict Orthodox Jews, Mr. Greenfield always wearing a Yarmulka, never driving on Saturday observing Shabbat, their holy day.

Amit would stroll with the family as though he knew he was Jewish too.  But the other thing Amit knew was he belonged to Ethan, never leaving his side.

Ethan died a month before his 6th birthday.  A stoic, sweet soul with his little shaved head and big smile, never knowing how sick he was since kids, alas, live in the moment…

as do Beagles.

The next thing we hear, a heartbroken Amit won’t eat, parked next to Ethan’s bed as if waiting for him to walk through the door.

I remember going there with my grandfather trying to get him to eat.

“Poor fella doesn’t want to live,” Mr. Greenfield had said, “he wants to be with Ethan.”

Now Mrs. Greenfield up till then was brave as can be never showing her grief, but the thought of losing Amit too was just too much for her, so she sat on their front porch and for the first time let herself cry.  But this was no ordinary weep mind you, this was a mother who watched her child suffer, then taken away forever.

Suddenly who appears on the porch but Amit, who heard her, jumping in her lap whimpering.

Mewling, as it was described by Mr. Greenfield.  It dawned on me that was the first time ever hearing the word.

He realized he was still needed, so after a time they both dried their tears, and Amit, the Beagle, Ethan’s best friend, began to eat again.       

Funny what pops a file.


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Best Story Of The Week

I’m standing, waiting for the light on 86th and Lexington.

To my left, is a teenage Latino kid, to my right, a 7 year-old or so, Asian boy.

The older one, smoking like a chimney, a tattoo of Tupac across the back of his neck, motions to the younger one to get back up on the curb.  “It’s dangerous man,” he says, as the kid wisely listens.

How lovely was that.  I’ve said this before, how well brought up Latinos are.  I see it often on the train, how they’ll give their seat to the elderly even after working all night, while the rest of humanity couldn’t care less.

The young one, an obvious, upper eastsider who in my opinion should not have been alone, toting a backpack almost as big as he is, was clearly taught to adhere to his elders.

I thought of the beauty in this, as the light changed.


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Love Files

It’s nice to know, St. Valentine did exist, and the day isn’t just a Hallmark holiday.

And he was a priest no less, associated with courtly love, bringing up a sea of reminiscence.

There was the chef who, rather than flowers, brought me bouquets of mint and dill.  Was I nuts about him, as much as any girl of 18 can be nuts about anyone. It didn’t last though, those long lunch shifts, interfering with sex and sex, and, did I mention sex? But even now, when the smell of mint wafts my way, one can still get damp between her pots and pans.

We had the Englishman, when finding out I didn’t own a TV, bought me one, carrying it up 5 flights of stairs. He was rich and famous (now, now, I never kiss and tell), sweet, sexy, generous and married, but that was in my 30s.

We’ve grown up since then.

Can’t forget the male model who liked wearing my pajamas, a plumber, one could say, unstopped my drain, an investment banker, a dentist, a drunken dress designer, and there was that gambler who played a helluva game of Liar’s poker.

If only I had known.

I’d be remiss not mentioning my musicians that, if we had a reunion, would make up an entire symphony orchestra.

I’ve always been musical, what can I say.

Toss in a fireman, felon, cop and a soldier because, even now, she’s still dazzled by any man in uniform, including a Police Dog named Skippy.

We’ll end with Bill, my romantic from Texas whose boots I can still hear clicking on the parquet floor, who’d write me love letters laced with lust leaving me puffing and panting in an impassioned swoon, I wish could repeat itself, like a carnal chorus.

I wish…I so wish.

Valentine’s Day, 2018      


Posted in Cinema, comedy, Connecticut, History, humanity, humor, Love, sex, sexual relationships, Women and men, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Jumpin Mac Flash

“You’re not thinking of jumping, are ya?”

It’s barely light when I climb onto the running track that surrounds the Central Park Reservoir, named for Jackie O who used to circle it, just like I’m about to do.

There’s hardly a soul in sight, except for a middle-aged man in a cheap, wrinkled suit, smoking, looking into the distance from the deepest spot of the reservoir.  Occasionally you’ll see flowers leaning against the fence in memory of a past jumper.

He ignores my question, so I ask again, “You’re not thinking of jumping, right?”

“What’s it to you,” he says with what sounds like a Romanian lilt.  “Can’t a man just stand here and have a quiet smuke?”

Technically, it’s illegal to smuke in the park, but don’t mention this since I see, all is not well with the Marlboro Man.

“I don’t want to intrude on your peace but, I’m not so sure you’re just having a quiet smoke.  Are you okay?”

“Me okeey…OKEEY?” This seems funny to him. “I’m anything but okeey, so what?”

I ask myself, why must I be so conscious of others, because now I’m hooked into his plight with no plan to speak of.  I then remember what a friend of mine says whenever she has a dilemma.  Unlike me, very Catholic, she’ll think, What would Jesus do?

Well, Jesus must have been late a lot since he was always stopping to help someone.  Feed them, clothe them, throw in a miracle here and there.  Yes, Jesus was never on time, like me, who is supposed to meet another friend for coffee.

If he were here, Jesus would say, “So, got another smuke?” His sandals leaving footprints on the track.

Then he’d ask the guy’s name, something I finally do, forgetting my manners.

“Mac, ma name’s Mac.”

“Jesus, I mean Susannah, I’m Susannah,” I say, coming out of my biblical reverie.

“Mac, just spill it.  What’s wrong.  Money matters? Women? Are you wanted by the cops?”

Who the fuck was I channeling?

“Money, let’s begin with that.  I’m bruke.  I’m so bruke I can’t make ma bills.  Am just sick and tired of Amurica.  Came here for a better life, and it ain’t no better.

“Things have a way of changing,” I say, “they do.  One minute life’s bad, the next better.  I know all about this having ongoing money issues myself.”

“Well I got a weefe who weeps and weeps.”

“Where is she now?”

“Sleepin, like moost sane people.”

I took umbrage at moost sane people, but did that stop me?

“Got any money on you at all?”

“Why, you need a loon?”

I laugh despite the absurdity of the situation.

“No, just asking.”

“Two bucks.”

“Well, I’ve got three.  How bout I give it to you, and you can go to the vendor right along Fifth, and get a coupla coffees and surprise your wife.”

It wasn’t easy giving up my donut money, but shit, that’s what Jesus would’a done.  Right? Damn that Jesus.

“Da ya always bother people this weey.  Like, it’s none of your business what I’m doin.”

“You’re right.  But, I hadda stop anyway.  Just can’t help myself.  I hope you don’t jump,  honestly, cause then when things get better you won’t be here.”

I give him the three bucks, stuff them in his front pocket, then take my leave.

“Hey Miss…you’re not gonna jump are ya?”

At least he had a sense of humor.

I wave, say a Hail Mary for the hell of it, trying not to turn around, but do anyway when I see Mac, exiting by the Metropolitan Museum, that leads to the vendor.

“Well done,” said Jesus.

“Yeah yeah.”





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Write What You See

Someone I like very much said, she’s more and more amazed at the wide variety of people I meet and write about.

It’s really because I pay attention to what’s around me, and there’s plenty, if you do.

Just this morning, a woman…clearly a tourist the way she was packed with shopping bags and a lunch basket, was filming two cardinals in the park, preening in a tree.  I watched her delight, as she steadied her camera.  Then a female came she didn’t see, so I said, ‘M’am,” that after looking up, inspired her to film the lady of the house as well.  All this en route home from Bed Bath & Beyond, using my 20% coupon.

Ta-da…an instant, unexpected essay.

I actually love the genre of taking a subject, then penning a piece on it.

Nora Ephron was my first essayist that made me want to be one.  Then came Jean Kerr, David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, Paul Rudnik and Anne Lamott.

They taught me, you could write about anything.  No one said it would all be brilliant, but it’s fun just the same.

If you said, write about hotdogs, the first thing I’d quote is my favorite New Yorker cartoon. Two hotdogs are standing in an alley when one says to the other, “They  grilled me Eddie, but I didn’t talk.”

That’s where reading comes in, collecting files that float, for free, in your head.

I’ll bet if you go take a stroll, a pad and pen in your pocket, you’ll come back with a story.

See, I’ll write about practically anything, because, well, I just so LOVE to write.


“They grilled me Eddie, but I didn’t talk.”   🙂


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Things Could Be Worse

I’m in Starbucks obsessing over some concerns I have.

I know enough, when I’m in this place, to compose an immediate gratitude list to bail myself out of my ceremonial self-pity.

Before I could whip out my notebook, a woman comes in I happen to know.  She’s 50, if that…tall, stately, with long white hair like a thoroughbred palomino.

I sigh, running my hand through my choppy Bowery Boy cut, when she turns around and I see her ass is the size of Cleveland, one BIG problem I don’t have.

Did I give her a smile.

That God…gotta love’em when he’s trying to make a point, the little rascal.



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American History 101

When I can’t sleep, instead of sheep, I count the presidents, making certain to remember all 45 of them.

I toss in trivia like, Lincoln was the tallest at 6’4, while James Madison, the shortest at 5’4 weighing only 100 pounds, where William Howard Taft weighed in at 300, and the only other president, besides JFK, to be buried at Arlington.

But my favorite president, next to Teddy, was our 6th…John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, our 2nd.  I even have a stuffed lion named after him.

What I loved most about John Quincy was his inherent integrity, how he never backed down, especially fighting against slavery...speaking his mind and his conscience, to quote the writer/historian, David McCullough.

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone.” JQA

I liked knowing, he was romantic as well, penning verse to his wife, Louisa, when they were often apart, laced with a touch of lust.

He was also, the only president to ever return to the House of Representatives, pairing humility with his integrity earning him the name, Old Man Eloquent.

He said, it was the happiest 17 years of his life.

In, 1848, at the age of 80, John Quincy collapsed at his desk. If you go on a tour of the United States Capitol, in Statuary Hall, a brass plate in the floor marks the spot. He was carried to the speaker’s office where he died, two days later while Henry Clay, in tears, held his hand.

He died in harness, as they said back then…with his boots on, as we say now.

Knowing our history emboldens us, making us proud to be Americans and much less fearful of the future, regardless, of who’s at the helm.

Like the great filmmaker, Ken Burns, always says…

You can’t know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you’ve been.”

John Quincy Adams… 1767-1848

JQA was the very first president to ever be photographed.






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Beauty and the Rabbi

I’m waiting for the light to change behind a very attractive woman in her 30s, and a very, unattractive man, in his.

He was as homely as she was beautiful, so I assumed they were just friends, until they kissed goodbye like Liz and Dick.

Whoa, I thought. Opposites do attract, but shouldn’t there be a limit?

He crosses Park while she forlornly stands waving, watching him go.

I find myself two corners down with her again, so I smile and say, “You were very passionate back there. I can’t help being a little envious.  But, well…oh never mind.”

“No, what were you about to say?”

Oh dear, as I try taking my Chuck Taylor out of my mouth that sounds dirty but, try to remember he’s a sneaker.

“He’s ya know, no George Clooney?”


“George Clooney couldn’t shine his shoes…and I’ll have you know he’s a rabbi, and the most eligible bachelor at my synagogue and any minute he’s going to pop the question.”

By all means, don’t hold back. I cleared my throat. “You mean marriage?”

“Asking me to spend Shabbatz with him. We’ve been just dating casually, but I think he’s ready for a deeper commitment.”

Shabbatz, falling on Saturday, is Jewish Sunday, when you solemnly stroll to Temple, then eat all day. At least that’s what I’m told.

I have to say, as she talked, I wanted to feel her head.  He looked like a giant cue ball with a belly you could bounce on.

She was perky as a pup, blonde and petite, but built, like a bullet about ready to fire itself, so I just couldn’t see them canoodling.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” she says.

“Yes, I’ve heard that,” remembering that dentist I swooned over who limped.

“I guess, the important thing is, if he makes you happy.”

Yes I said that.

“He actually makes me pretty miserable being the ladies man he is. Everybody wants  him?”

“Really?  I mean…really? If you don’t mind me saying, he’s, you know, not…


“Okay, I’m sorry, but you’re so gorgeous. He should be smitten with you on his arm.”



“My mother says, I’m wasting my time and should go back on Jdate.”

Jdate is the Jewish EHarmony…Hi I’m a JAP, loud and proud, like to shop, don’t cook but give great…heads up on what jewelry you’re to buy me. 

“Well, I agree with your mom, and making him jealous, might do him some good.”

She gave me a huge smile before saying, she was late for a sample sale.

I don’t know. Men, they can be fat, bald and boring, and still considered a catch.

What’s the catch?

Hell if I know.

Shabbatz Shalom, as they say at Temple.




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