Monday, December 22, 2014
Monday, December 15, 2014
“But you’re not wheezing anymore,” someone would insist.
“Purely due to your catching me at a good time,” I answered weakly but firmly, fluttering my eyes. “All I need is one more day. What does it matter if I miss a Friday?”
Monday, December 8, 2014
Monday, December 1, 2014
Monday, November 24, 2014
Monday, November 17, 2014
(I would dominate the world in a long black or navy cardigan, pink tank shirt, sterling silver jewelry, dark jeans, and pink flats. Pink is more of a power color than red, even looking and sounding more arresting, so similar to “punk.”)
From my experiences, and experiences retold to me, the higher the net worth you project, the more of a target you can become. A bulls-eye for everything. As an adult, I’ve lived in many apartments - the swankiest address I’ve had was the only one to have suffered a break-in attempt (or what I still describe as a break-in attempt, even though the ground-floor window the predator opened from the outside was protected by bars).
The first time I ever tried boarding a plane in shoes other than sneakers or flip-flops, a customs person (interrogating passengers “at random”) pulled me aside to ask whether I traveled for business or pleasure, and how much cash I had on me. He said I seemed like someone with a lot of money and he needed to make sure I wasn’t bringing more than $10,000 onto the island. (Is this what Zsa Zsa Gabor has to deal with? I bet she dresses up to hit the skies.) When, because he asked, I told him I write, the questions didn’t stop - he asked if I would ever write about our conversation. “Maybe,” I said, and he flipped around the ID badge hanging from his neck so I could no longer see his name and picture.
Monday, November 10, 2014
Monday, November 3, 2014
Larger society has piggybacked onto our childhood initiative and formed its own Christmas Club. One that’s not as sweet and innocent as ours. This adult takeover of The Christmas Club is too much of something good, like binge-eating your once-favorite food to the point where you rarely crave it.
My first “holiday” party invitation came a few days before Halloween and I made a face at it. Radio City Music Hall’s tree and lights have been up since last week - and got the face too. And some of these chain stores. I salute the retailers and organizations creative enough to come up with other fall marketing campaigns. (Here, I’m talking about non-pumpkin-themed fall campaigns because I haven’t decided what’s worse – the Christmas marketing movement or the pumpkin-spice one.)
Monday, October 27, 2014
Method of payment: Popsicles (flavors negotiable) and the privilege of blossoming under my tutelage.
*Short-order cooking, baking, tailoring, and document shredding.
*Spirit, guts (which are fancy words for confidence); remaining highly energetic, but calm, all at once.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Image courtesy of http://realitytvgifs.tumblr.com
But here’s my #1, big-picture, tip: avoid “how to” manuals on becoming a better writer and become more of a reader in general.
Ninety percent of the most talented writers I’ve personally known would put reading for pleasure toward the top of their list of hobbies. They’re rarely without reading material during subway rides and might listen to the audio versions of books while driving long distances alone. They read during commercial breaks and long customer service hold times. They read to calm down and to rev up. It’s how they’ve rolled for years, if not for the better part of their lives, to the point where they have gradually absorbed what strong writing looks and feels like, producing strong writing of their own becomes second nature, and “National Days on Writing” become four more unnecessary words.
Monday, October 13, 2014
I just sorted through the earrings section of my jewelry box. I’ve had and lost so many. They’re like socks and boys and drinking buddies and ideas. One minute they’re there, making me giddy; the next minute they’re missing and I smirk at how well I can live without them.
Monday, October 6, 2014
Monday, September 29, 2014
It all started this past spring when the guard, our protector, knocked on my door a little before 5 p.m., to hand me a pack of Lindor white chocolate (without removing the $3.29 price tag). A few days later, he tried giving me an entire bottle of wine.
During the workweek, I sometimes get really hungry at about 4:30 p.m. And almost every other day, for weeks, that would be around the time he’d appear with a treat to tide me over until dinnertime. The wine is the only offering he has allowed me to politely decline.
After the wine came more chocolate. Followed by heaping handfuls of Werther’s Original. One afternoon, he set a bar of Muscle Milk on my desk, which turned out to be a protein bar. I’d only ever had one protein bar, years ago, and remember finding it too gross to finish. But two days later, I got dangerously hungry less than two hours after lunch, didn’t want to buy an overpriced snack from a vending machine or the newsstand in the building’s lobby, and pulled the (vanilla toffee crunch) Muscle Milk out of my drawer. It hit the spot, in a way almonds never have. A week later, he delivered an equally satisfying Special K bar.
At first I was all, “This is so inappropriate, I have to get him to stop.” When he did eventually stop, it turned into, “Where the hell is this guy? I’m starving here,” compounded by also having to deal with a Werther’s-loving co-worker badgering me about whether a new supply had come in.
So I’ve had to resume foraging for snacks independently. Even though I know protein bars are processed foods that aren’t great for you, they’ve got to trump the bags of Sour Patch Kids I used to hoard, and my Costco membership card is about to come out of a long dry spell.
Monday, September 22, 2014
“I ate a quesadilla earlier. It had chicken, mushrooms, spinach, cheese. Maybe Monterey Jack? Or Cheddar? I can’t remember. Now it’s gonna bother me. You’re so right, dad, I should pull up the menu online. I’ll Google it later and call you when I do. I haven’t talked to you or mom since yesterday, you don’t love me anymore. I really want a muffin right now even though it’s after 6 p.m. Is that weird? Have you ever wanted breakfast at night? Two joggers are running toward me and I thought one was barefoot, but her sneakers are just lightweight and flesh-toned. Can you believe I turn 28 in 10 weeks? How does it feel to have a 28-year-old child? Not great?! Put mom on so I can ask her how it feels to have a 28-year-old child. Hi mom. You’re right, you don’t have a 28-year-old child yet so it is premature to ask until the day you do! My left elbow kind of hurts right now, you guys.”
Monday, September 15, 2014
Monday, September 8, 2014
Monday, September 1, 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014
Dedicated to Those Pouring Buckets of Ice Water Over Their Heads, Without Realizing What It’s All For
Monday, August 18, 2014
The reporters risking their lives (probably for very little money) to show and tell the world what’s really happening in Ferguson have been tear gassed, threatened with assault rifles, arrested and released without charges. With respect for them all, I’ve developed a particular fondness for the front-liners I’ve mainly followed this week: the Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery, USA Today’s Yamiche Alcindor, freelance journalist Amy K. Nelson, the Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly, and BuzzFeed’s Joel D. Anderson, who don’t look much older than 30.
Monday, August 11, 2014
The act of doing laundry becomes a production that could transform you into a frequent hand-washer and air-dryer. It could transform you into someone who swings by T.J. Maxx for a pair of kitchen towels and 5 pieces of clearance-rack underwear, to give yourself 5 more days of not having to pull out the granny cart and push a giant bag (not unlike the one Jolly Old St. Nicholas slides down chimneys with) around the corner. Or, in my case, around a couple of corners, up an incline, and across a busy street because the laundromat around the nearest corner is too chaotic and claustrophobic for anyone’s optimal psychological well-being.
Making the trip to the laundromat is just that – like taking a trip. A journey. There’s packing involved - the detergent, reading material, lip balm, phone, chewing gum, keys, the coin purse I use exclusively for storing quarters that’s now falling apart because all of this has exhausted the poor thing too.
If it’s too hot to wear pants and my skirt has no pockets, the tube of lip balm gets shoved down my cleavage.
|Image courtesy of http://openclipart.org|
I taught myself how to do laundry. My mom tried teaching me before I left for college, and I didn’t watch or listen carefully (I may or may not have offered my signature, “It ain’t rocket science” line, or something close to it, as an excuse). She’s been dead 10 years this summer and I never got to ask how her machine-washed clothes smelled prettier than roses without being as overpowerfully fragrant as many other machine-washers’ finished products. It doesn't matter how much detergent I use or what brand, whether I include fabric softener and dryer sheets, whether I’m at a public machine or the private one she once used - none of my freshly washed clothes have smelled as good as hers, but every load I do gives me another chance to create a more similar scent.
Monday, August 4, 2014
Monday, July 28, 2014
Monday, July 21, 2014
Monday, July 14, 2014
Malala Yousafzai is the teenage girl from Pakistan’s Swat Valley who not only continued going to school after the Taliban forbid girls from doing so, but (along with her feminist father) became known as a girls’ education activist, when it would have been safer and easier to put up and shut up. Like many others (from East to West), the Taliban finds strong women deeply threatening, so one day in 2012 they shot Malala in the head (where the mind is located) while she rode the bus home from school. She survived, now lives in England with her parents and younger brothers, and still speaks out. She turned 17 the day before yesterday, spending her birthday weekend in Nigeria, comforting schoolgirls who escaped from their April 15th kidnappers and the parents of schoolgirls who remain missing.
Today is the second annual Malala Day. How can you celebrate? How about by showing more consideration toward people who don’t live like you; developing more self-awareness; supporting universal preschool and an increased minimum wage; contributing something useful to the society that exists beyond your own insular group; thinking of passivity as your worst enemy but thinking carefully before you act.
Photo source: www.malala.org
Monday, July 7, 2014
You can walk down the main drag to the sound of Jerry Garcia’s voice drifting out a front door, a few buildings down from some Jamaican patties. Although Hudson’s main drag is (blessedly) named something other than Main Street, it does include a hair salon that could not resist.
This time of year, the main drag is a flag-happy strip.
Those low-flying flags look charming until the wind gets gusting and, one by one, they start furling and unfurling, slapping you upside the head as you stroll.
Monday, June 30, 2014
Good feng shui: fresh flowers
Although the ones displayed above are on their last legs, they’ve stayed alive for 9 days and have really had it good. I’ve run way behind schedule at least 3 times to clean their vases, feed them (homemade flower food: 2 tblps sugar, 2 tblps vinegar, 4 cups water), and tend to their other needs before leaving them on their own for the day. Can’t wait to replace them with sunflowers.
I stared and made flustered faces at the unexpected pile of parts that came with the camera for several weeks before unexpectedly getting my first iphone, which soon became all the camera I need. I now have no use for a Nikon and neither does anyone in my circle - they have iphones too. When people stop me on the street to take a picture of them, they hand me an iphone. I haven’t handled a real camera in years.
Monday, June 23, 2014
One afternoon a couple of years ago, I returned home
to find a supremely strung-out dude buzzing up the intercom panel on my building’s
front porch. He asked if I knew a guy on the sixth floor whose name I didn’t
recognize but I’m pretty sure I know who he meant; he’s really nice, possibly
around 70 years old. The person pacing the porch worked with this sixth-floor
neighbor, who has a heart problem, and said no one in their workplace had seen
or heard anything from or about him in a week, so this co-worker came by to
check on him. On the elevator ride up, he mentioned how nervous he was about
what he might smell when he reached the apartment’s door. I haven’t run into that
Last night, I caught up with an elderly one who has survived breast cancer, uterine cancer, horrible seasonal allergies. She’s recovering from a major surgery and has deep relationships with many people, old and young, near and far. When she said she’s tired of them constantly calling and visiting her, in sickness and in health, I couldn’t feel sorry for her.
Monday, June 16, 2014
Growing up in a bagel-loving household, 460 miles west of New York City, bagels were always around. Friday nights, on her way home from work, my mom brought back a dozen from a stall in Cleveland’s West Side Market that, until last month, I assumed were authentic New York City bagels, considering the degree of glorification they received. Turns out they came from Canada and just “tasted more like New York bagels” than other availabilities in our parts.
As soon as the cream cheese gets spread on, they all taste the same to me. I like doughnuts.
My dad sometimes won’t spread anything onto one. He’ll eat them like apples. One birthday or Father’s Day I sent him a dozen from H&H Bagels, when I lived an avenue away from its Upper West Side location, and he said he’d never chewed better. It’s what most people said when they tried one. Years ago, when that H&H went out of business, I thought it meant the entire H&H empire erupted.
Monday, June 9, 2014
The “walk in a straight line” business could explain why she then confessed she’d just had two glasses of wine. I’m glad she came clean about the drinking (and yes, Virginia, there really are people who get bombed from 2 weak drinks) because it made me more patient. Until she asked how much rent I pay.
Whenever someone I’m not extremely close to asks: (1) how much rent I pay; or (2) how much money I make, I tell myself the next time it happens, I’ll chuckle it off and say, “We don’t talk about money, darling.” But I always end up blurting out the exact dollar amount, forever taken aback by either question when it comes.
She needed to know what I do for a living, which is such a Northeast Corridor thing to ask someone you’ve known for less than 5 minutes. When I said I was an editor, she lit up.