Timeless Style

This is the time of year my late pal Jackie makes her annual visit.

I feel her alongside me as I prepare for spring. Out come my sweaters cleaned, then put away; my coats checked for spots and loose buttons. Boots are repaired and polished, shoe trees in place to keep their shape.

She taught me all this when I was a mere girl, a clueless chica living in Levi’s and her favorite Ramones T-shirt, Keds on her size 9 feet.

Jackie had what Ralph Lauren calls ‘Timeless Style’ raised in Paris where women learn at a young age, how to dress.

She was there when I bought my first suit at Saks with two nice blouses you could switch out, depending where you were going.

You’re better off with one good outfit, then lots of bargains that fall apart after a few cleanings. Invest in a good pair of pumps and black flats, a nice belt and a good purse, and that’s all you’ll need. And those Ramones of yours, at the very least, should always be cleaned and pressed….Jackie Wisdom

She was the one who said…toss in black slacks and a little black dress folded like a silk hankie, and you’re packed and set to go….anywhere.

I loved her so much, hence 40 years later because of her, still dress the same…

Quality over Quantity.

Audrey, with a little Patti Smith tossed in.

What’s that Jackie?

“Wear who you are Susannah, a lean, simple sprite of a girl, and don’t forget, less is more, and simplicity is the keynote for true elegance.

Jackie, quoting Coco Chanel.        

Copy that! 🙂

SB

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Posted in Gratitude, Fashion, New York City, friendship, money, shopping, modeling, creative writing, inspiration | Tagged , , , , | 23 Comments

Best Story of the Week…April 26

I’m coming from the subway in Grand Central, when I see a young mother with a one-year old in a stroller. I watch her examine the stairs knowing, she’ll have a hard time maneuvering everything on her own. I look to see if any men stop to help, but none do.

A man of color in a wheelchair, positioned in a corner, is watching too. He’s huge, like a Linebacker, very well kept, missing a leg.

Meanwhile, it’s Easter Sunday so Grand Central is packed with commuters and yet, no one still thinks to stop.

I say to the mom, can I help in any way? She smiles, says no, placing her daughter down as she capably collapses the stroller.

I stand by this little Asian doll who looks at me as if to say, I’ve seen this all before.

So me and the man of color, watch them stoically disappear down the busy stairwell.

I look his way, sighing heavily.

“I can’t believe no man stopped to carry that stroller for her. I would have at least tried, if she had let me. I’ve learned though, in my helpful travels, to ask first.”

He says, “Yeah, I see this a lot. People just are too much in a hurry these days to lend a hand, on the other end, it’s also hard to accept one.” It was then I saw he had a cup discreetly attached to the arm of his wheelchair.

“I rarely carry cash,” I say, “but do have a bunch’a quarters. Would that help?”

He laughs. “Come to think of it, it would, because I need to do laundry.”

Don’t ask me why this popped out of my mouth, but I say, “You know what I know without a doubt? If you were able, you would have helped that young mom.”

He looks at me like the man I instinctively know he is and says, “I would have helped her in a minute. You are so right.”

After an awkward silence I say, “I’m Susannah.”

“Lorenzo,” he answers.

“Happy Easter Lorenzo, it was really nice meeting you.”

“Likewise, and thanks for stopping to talk to me.”

It was then I realized he was a Vietnam Vet, something else he was discreet about.

Hankies all around.

SB

Posted in Culture, Faith, friendship, grace, humanity, inspiration, kids, men, New York City, parents, travel, words | Tagged , , , , | 34 Comments

Groundbreaking News…There’s A Sale On Nuts At Fairway

What happened to the days when groundbreaking news was truly groundbreaking, like when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor or, the President’s been shot.

I must get 30 of these a day attempting to make me stop in my tracks to pay rapt attention to mindless minutiae. No offense to Donald Trump, alright, maybe just a little, but I don’t care about his latest Tweet. President Bartlett of The West Wing in reruns is more apt to grab my attention.

And if one more naughty executive gets axed during lunch I’m turning in my turkey club for a martini. Who’s next, Lassie? Some Poodle any minute through her lawyer will be suing saying her tail was inappropriately pulled. No, I’m not making light of bad behavior, alright maybe just a little, but life is short, and the media is making me wish it was even shorter.

Could we be just a little bit more selective?

Every once in a while, you’ll hear something good, but never called groundbreaking, like that lost little girl they found asleep in a cornfield with her Yorkie called, Fat Heath, guarding her like a furry Navy Seal. That was next to an ad on mattresses on sale at Sleep EZ.  I think we need to reassess what’s considered groundbreaking.

That’s not to say, I won’t be going to Fairway to take advantage of those cheap nuts since nuts, all the way around, clearly can be groundbreaking, if you’re a nut on a budget that is.

So many essays, so little time.  images.jpeg

SB

 

Posted in animals, humanity, humor, internet, media, New York City, Politics, words, writing | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

The Hug That Was Felt Around The World

I’m in Greenpoint, the Detroit of Brooklyn, making my way home passing a furniture store. images.jpeg It’s not one that would normally catch my eye, since it looks like what my friend Camille would call, Early Bunker, but then something does catch my eye, two to be exact.

The biggest, brownest bedroom pair on four legs right in the heart of Brooklyn.

A pit the size of a Humvee is seated on a sofa like King Tut. Unknown-1.jpeg

I have to go in.

“Are you the owner,” I purr, praying he doesn’t bite my leg thinking I’m a furniture felon.

This has nothing to do with his pit-hood. If he was a Yorkie the size of a squeegie, I’d still be cautious before holding out the palm of my hand, in a gesture of goodwill.

He hops off the couch, the perfect host, to sniff me from stem to stern. In other words, hand to crotch, before nuzzling me like a sexy sailor.

“Excuse me,” I say grinning, “but have we properly met?”

Just then a 40ish looking, large male pops out of an office and says, “Joey, rememba’ ya mannas’…youes’ a genelman’.”

I’m so charmed, I suddenly find myself seated on a futon in the shape of a grapefruit.

Only in Brooklyn.

Joey was rescued by Harry when he was about 8 months old, now 3. He was freezing in the cold by the corner subway stop when Harry was coming to work.

After giving him half of his egg and cheese sandwich, that was it, Joey became Harry’s.

“Why did you name him Joey?”

Joey Gallo was a friend’a my fatha’s, also kinda’ brave and dumb at da’ same time, with loads’a choom’ too so, hey, it’s a good’a name as any.”

Joey Gallo was a gangster who got gunned down in 1972, on his 43rd birthday in Little Italy, his face last seen in a plate of scungilli.

After regaining myself, kissing Joey on the head ready to leave, Harry says, “Ya know, everybady’s’ afraid’a him, and youes’, such a lady ( I have on ripped jeans and a hoodie with Jackie glasses that make me look like a large bee) just comes struttin’ in here. Can wes’ give ya a hug?”

Now before I can say yes or no, he throws his Popeye arms around me, hugging me so tight, I may have dropped a dress size, while Joey wraps himself around my legs.

Think ménage a’ trois’ with a sectional plus a tail.

And despite what it may sound like, it’s not a flirty hug at all, just an old-fashioned show of innocent affection I can’t help basking in.

When I’m at the corner about to go down the stairs to get the train, I turn to find Harry and Joey waving, making me wonder, just how that grapefruit might look in my living room.

🙂images.jpeg

SB

Posted in animals, Culture, friendship, humanity, humor, inspiration, Love, New York City, travel, words | Tagged , , , , | 36 Comments

Holy Thursday

images.jpeg It’s what Christians call, Holy Week, the mournful drum roll to Good Friday, when Jesus died on the cross.

Holy Thursday commemorates The Last Supper, Jesus’s last meal, when he shared bread and wine with his Apostles to more or less say good bye.

It was also when he washed the feet of all those gathered, teaching humility, saying, not all of you are clean, because he knew who betrayed him.

This is done during the mass, the priest presiding on his knees, washing the feet of 12 faithful parishioners.

It’s a very solemn service for all those attending.

But the part most moving is when, at the end of the mass, the Priest strips the altar clean…hence, all his life was stripped from him, so we strip the altar in remembrance.

The candles are blown out, overhead lights dimmed, as everything is taken away before all present, silently, with great humility, file out.

The symbolism is so powerful because it becomes so personal, every loss you’ve ever had taking its place beside you.

It’s no wonder people leave in tears, their wounds wide open.

It was heartbreaking witnessing the burning of the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

One can’t help but to wonder if God, so disappointed in his children, didn’t destroy his own house.

Yes, relics were saved as candles stayed lit, God mewling, we can still be redeemed, it’s not too late, but God only knows…images-3.jpeg we need to do better, a lot better, before it is, indeed, too late.

SB

 

 

 

 

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Mornings On Horseback

Unknown.jpeg I’ve just finished David McCullough’s book, Mornings On Horseback (1981) about a young, romantic Theodore Roosevelt.

The by-line reads: The Story Of An Extraordinary Family, A Vanished Way of Life And The Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt.

What inspires me to write is not the story itself, but the poignant message I’ve come away with.

Teddy, who by the way hated that name, preferring Theodore, experienced tragedy enough for ten men.

He was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1881, spending his week in Albany, coming home to New York City on weekends.

He had married his first love, Alice Hathaway Lee, in 1880, after a very long, passionate pursuit. I always smile when I think, one of the reasons Alice didn’t respond right away, was because of Teddy’s distinct odor due to the taxidermy he performed in his rooms at Harvard. Kind of like a smoker who has no idea that he smells like a pool hall.

But since he was so bewitched, the word he used after meeting her, our Teddy was determined to make Alice his own, thus their engagement being announced on Valentine’s Day, 1880.

Alice, three years later, pregnant with their first child, had moved into the Roosevelt Family home at 6 West 57th Street to be with Theodore’s mother, Mittie, short for Martha, when her due date got closer. As unimaginable as it sounds, women had their babies at home without much fuss, often with a midwife rather than a doctor.

Teddy gets word while on the Assembly floor, Alice gave birth to a healthy baby girl, shaking hands, handing out cigars, till a second telegram comes saying, he better come home.

She had contracted Bright’s Disease, a post pregnancy inflammation of the kidneys common at the time. If you ever saw the Downton Abbey episode when Sybil dies after giving birth, it gives you an idea. One minute the mother is fine, the next, in a state of fatal flight.

Mittie, two floors up, after thinking it was merely a cold, was down with Typhoid Fever. Where an antibiotic would have cured her if they had existed, she was unable to fight her way back.

So on Valentine’s Day, 1884, four blissful years after their engagement…and I’ll quote from the book:

By the time he reached her bedside and took her in his arms, Alice barely knew who he was. He stayed there, holding her, until some time before three in the morning when he was told that if he wished to see his mother again, he must come at once.

Mittie died at three o’clock the morning of February 14, her four children at her bedside. Alice lingered on another eleven hours. She died at two in the afternoon, Theodore still holding her.

His diary entree that night: And when my heart’s dearest died, the light went out of my life forever.

Alice was but 22. Unknown-2.jpeg

Thus, our noble Teddy lost both his mother and wife on the same day, in the blink of an eye.

The message this sent, and I’ll quote him again: The sole overwhelming lesson is (was) the awful brevity of life, the sense that the precipice awaited not just somewhere off down the road, but at any moment.

I’ve heard it said, God speaks through other people, so right now it’s Theodore Roosevelt from the ether, reminding us to live one day at a time as happily as possible, not concerned with tomorrow, since fate, alas, will have the final say.

History remains our greatest teacher.

SB

Dedicated to Helen, who inspired this.

 

 

Posted in Books, creative writing, Culture, Family, Health, History, humanity, inspiration, Love, New York City, Politics, Women and men, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 38 Comments

Best Story of the Week…April 11; The Chivalrous Dad

Have you ever seen the film, Love in the Afternoon with Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper? Unknown.jpeg It’s where I got my blog name from…Athingirl.  It’s what Mr. Flannagan calls Ariane, who plays the cello, while Maurice Chevalier as her dad, often carries it for her.

This morning as I was heading home from my run, I see a young girl, 9 or 10, with her very dashing dad, dressed in a navy pinstriped suit, beside her, carrying a huge case on his back.

Imagine a giant guitar swaddled in black.

They join me at the corner, waiting for the light to change, so I ask if indeed he was carrying a cello.

Before he could answer, the young lady, in her perfectly pressed school uniform with matching diction says, “Yes, dad always carries my cello for me, since it’s much heavier than my books.”

I say, “What a nice dad you have,” who’s saying nothing, but now has little beads of perspiration appearing on his paternal brow.

Then she says, “Mom says, she hopes I find a husband as nice as dad.”

Dad finally smiles, as the light, finally changed.

SB

Posted in Culture, Family, Fashion, humor, Love, media, New York City, words | Tagged , , , | 42 Comments

Perseverance, a Persistent Word.

 Perseverance is a noun, meaning, to do something despite delay in reaching a personal goal.

Tenacity, diligence, dedication…to be relentless and single-minded…having determination and staying power.

It reminds me of a friend’s email address…dedicated always.

To have tunnel vision regardless of obstacles tossed in your path.

A word that rings true to me, since I have it in spades, inherited from my mother’s side of the family who exuded commitment.

A trait I’ve never thought a lot about till recently, due to my many sudden challenges.

It’s not easy to keep going, no matter what…to have focus and vigilance. I remember watching my mother soldier on after burying both her parents she never left, even after marrying my father, since they shared our two-family house.

She’d cry, mop the floor, stuff a chicken, then cry some more.

I too sob in motion.

At my worst moment I’m paying a bill, doing my nails or putting laundry away (or writing an essay), tears, coming along for the ride.

It doesn’t matter what’s put in front of you if you’re blessed with perseverance, the steam you need to keep chugging along.

To be uncompromising, unstoppable, continuous no matter what, is a pretty fine quality to work towards.

To quote Winston Churchill…if you’re going through hell, keep going.

A thin girl’s two cents.

SB

 

 

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By the People

I’ve been thinking about our 45th President, perusing his latest Tweets that have become so commonplace, they drone like Muzak on an elevator.

It reminds me of FDR’s Fireside Chats, when Americans would gather round their radios to listen to the wisdom of their beloved Commander-in Chief, who reassured more than rattled, spoke only when he had something important to say.

I then thought of other leaders not as popular, like George W. Bush and his invisible weapons of mass destruction. Many Americans foamed at the mouth over him and Mr. Cheney, his fun loving V.P. Now it’s all forgotten, because we’re like that….

we’re bighearted people.

We wept with George as he gave the eulogy for his dad, tears streaming down his face, his foibles and missteps, things of the past.

Will we forgive number 45 when he finally steps down? Probably, too polite to say anything but, good luck, rather than, good riddance.

To quote Mr. Lincoln, the better angels of our nature, no doubt will have the last say, since, our innate patriotism links us, brother to brother, despite our differences.

Like Ben Franklin said to his fellow founders, either we hang together or we hang alone, and he wasn’t just whistling under his coonskin cap either, that Ben.

And that government of the people, by the people, for the people….shall not perish from the earth.

Sing it Abe!

GOD BLESS AMERICA.

Susannah

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Best Story of the Week…April 5th

It’s 5 A.M. as I head to a job….quiet and misty, desolate and dark as I walk towards the Park with plans to cross it to catch the C Train.  It’s a short walk I make often though some would say, not safely at this hour.

In the meantime, the crosstown bus is zooming towards Madison like a fire engine answering a call. In the old days, before they made you click your Metrocard in a machine before boarding, I would have just hopped on. Oh well, no time for the machine since the driver, a middle-aged woman with bright red hair, seems to be in an awful hurry though forced to stop at the light slamming on her breaks.

We exchange what I assumed would be a quick look, when she says…”Hey, where you goin’ at this ow’a?”

I step closer and say, “To catch the C.”

“You hailin’ a taxi, I hope?”

“I never take cabs, out of principle, since they charge 5 bucks to just open the door.”

“So, you’re tellin’ me you’re walkin’ through the park?”

“Yes, it’s a short stroll.”

“Get on,” she says, like a truant officer.

“No, I really need the walk.”

“GET ON THIS BUS.”

Never one to argue with someone who speeds, I do, joining one other woman on the bus who looks as if she saw a ghost.

“You okay?”

“Well I was till I go on this bus.”

Before I could ask why, our driver steps on the gas like she’s running Daytona, causing both of us to slam into the seat in front of us.

“She’s tryin’ a kill  us…been drivin’ like that since I got on. Like, what’s the hurra’…is there a fia?”

“It must be to keep awake, the night shift after all is tough.”

“Hasn’t she ever heard’a coffa’?”

“Just think how early we’ll be.”

“Not if we’re day’ed we won’t be.”

When we both got off at Central Park West I say thanks again.

“Took no time at all to get over here. Isn’t it great?” I say to the other lady.

“NO,” she says, waiting for the door to open like a calf at a rodeo.

“She’s joking,” I say to the driver who does not look amused.

“Aren’t ya?”

“No, I’m not. Get me off this day’amed bus…NOW.”

“Well alrighty then, take good care,” I say, as we watch her run like she escaped from the nuthouse.

“Listen, said Mario Andretti, “no more’a this walkin’ through the park when it’s dark. You can always flag down a bus.”

“Yeah but, it’s not your fault I didn’t have the time to scan my card, and I was hurrying.”

“Takes a second for some creep to slam ya over the head, besides, the rules change overnight,” she said, “don’t you do that again, ya hear?”

I was all set to explain the Ed Crescimanni Rule for always arriving early, but she seems like a woman perpetually on the go so I thank her, running to catch the train.

Who says New Yorkers don’t care about each other.

SB

 

Posted in Culture, grace, humanity, humor, New York City, travel, women | Tagged , , , | 34 Comments